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On narrowest margin, council approves $1,900 for Downtown flowers

WBTA contributed to this story.

It took the City Council 20 minutes to debate whether the city should reimburse the Business Improvement District $1,900 for flowers.

In the end, the resolution passed 5-4, but not before some sharp words where shared in the council chambers.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian looked around the room during the debate and wondered why Don Burkel, BID director wasn't there, "so we could rip his ass."

The request for the reimbursement didn't quite come from Burkel, however, it came from Councilman John Canale, who invited Burkel to submit a request for reimbursement. Canale saw it as a symbolic gesture to show common cause between the City Council and the business community. 

Councilwoman Kathy Briggs said the city already does enough for Downtown. The sidewalks are clean, the medians are beautiful and city crews hang the flower baskets.

"The fact is, we just saw this for the last time in our last packet and I'm like, 'oh, what's this,' " Briggs said. "The fact that a few council people were talking about it beforehand, planning it, then why didn't we know about it in a committee report? Why weren't we told about it. I got it in my packet and I'm like, 'what's this?' They didn't come to us at budget time. If you want this done, come to us and let's talk about it, but for me to find it in my packet and then decide it, no."

Councilman John Deleo also opposed the idea.

“I promised voters I would be financially responsible with their money,” Deleo said, “but flowers don’t rise to that level.” 

“It’s not just about making Downtown pretty,” countered Councilwoman Patty Pacino, “it is about making Downtown attractive to new and existing businesses.”

The BID fronted about $3,900 for the hanging baskets.

"I supported Vibrant Batavia because I wanted to bring pride back to the city," said Councilman Pier Cipollone, who spoke at length about the need to restore pride in Batavia. "If more people have pride they'll have a better feeling about being Downtown."

Also Monday: 

The city spent a total of $10,700 during the last fiscal year defending itself against a lawsuit filed by the City Centre Mall Association.

The figure was obtained by resident John Roach through a Freedom of Information Request. Roach complained that the bills he obtained were not “itemized.”

City Manager Jason Molino countered that Roach only requested a total amount for mall litigation and if an itemized accounting was requested, it could be provided.

The legal services summarized in the 2012-2013 fiscal year were incurred before the city filed a countersuit against the Mall Association earlier this year.

tim raines
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What's this?? It's only $1900. 20 minutes of debate. Sharp words exchanged. Disrespect towards others. Pathetic.

Ask not what your city can do for you, but what can you do for your city.

Richard Richmond II
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CRACK POTS, FLOWER POTS AND POT HOLES!

The Batavia Improvement District (BID) and their supporters required five votes from The Batavia City Council to appropriate $1900.00 of our tax payer dollars for flower pots on Main Street; half the cost of the $3800.00 BID has already spent on flower pots.

BID asked for it and received; despite the fact BID Director Don Burkel couldn’t be bothered to show up in person to ask for our taxpayer money, and despite the fact BID has already been given tens-of-thousands of our taxpayer money.

BID and their supporter’s theory, marketing strategy, wishful thinking; crack pot proposal or good intentions.....call it what you like; mandate spending taxpayer money on flowerpots to generate increased revenue for businesses in the City.

One predicate of the theory; the marketing strategy; the wishful thinking; the crack pot proposal; the good intentions; believe flower pots will entice out-of-town-commuters driving through the City to miraculously stop, awe struck, and park their cars to smell the daisies.

Consequently the intoxicating scent (please smell the daisies) and colorful vista of the said flowers pots will inspire drivers and passenger alike to spend their money here. Perhaps the same theory applies in part to City Taxpayer.

Councilwoman Pacino enlightened us in her usual rambling style to defend the expenditure when she shared “I feel like Shirley Temple when I drive down the Main Street and see the flowers.” Now there’s a sound and concise reason to spend taxpayer dollars on flower pots.

Councilman Cipollone said in part “I want to bring pride back to the city.”

Councilman Cipollone; I wasn’t aware that pride had left the City, or that the Citizens of the City of Batavia are as shallow as to need flowerpots to inspire or instill pride in our Community.

At the Council Meeting, Councilman Canale passionately stated “We want to partner with the BID. It’s $1,900 for crying out loud!”

There are many types of partnerships, Councilman Canale. If it’s only $1900.00 for crying out loud; reach into your own pocket and pay for the flowerpots to consummate your partnership with BID.

Another predicate of the crack pot is that money spent will result in additional sales tax to lower property taxes for all; including those taxpayers who have already purchased flowers or hanging baskets for their porches from their own pockets.

The predictable vote of five to give BID an additional $1900.00 of our taxpayer money is a contemptuous slap in the face to taxpayers and homeowners.

On June 3, 2014, I returned home from work at approximately 11:30PM after pulling a double shift. I reside at 20 Washington Avenue on the corner of Washington and Dellinger.

By Midnight there was a major water main break on Dellinger across from my house and my water was shut off. The professional and dedicated men from our Water Department were on the scene immediately. They were on site working hard from approximately midnight until six the next morning when I left for work. However, before I left, I stopped to thank them for a job well done.

Without water, I can’t make my morning coffee (actually my wife Cindy makes it for me) let alone water our flowers and hanging baskets; and Cindy waters them too.

There were large potholes on Dellinger left over from winter that were fixed; my thanks to the fine hard working people in Batavia’s DPW.

No doubt, there are more potholes to be filled resulting from a particularly harsh winter; as there will be more waterline breaks and sewer problems attributed to an aging infrastructure; all appropriate; reasonable and responsible expenditures of our tax dollars.

Thank you Councilman John Deleo; Councilman Eugene Jankowski; Councilwoman Kathy Briggs and Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian for being the adults in the room and voting NO!

Bob Harker
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Awesome post, Richard. When it comes to taxpayers' money, it's all about priorities, of which flower pots should be on the bottom.

If these displays are going to increase revenues for downtown businesses, those businesses should fund it 100%. Let the business owners decide.

John Roach
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It seemed that the 5 who voted for this considered the amount too small to really care about. It is not their money, so why not spend it.

Bea McManis
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There are small communities that make an effort to make their commercial districts appealing for several reasons. For the local residents it promotes civic pride. For the merchants, it gives them a leg up on the sterile competing big box stores. The atmosphere sends a welcoming message to locals and visitors alike. That friendly welcome does boost sales.

Recently, I was in a small town where they promoted a foot bridge, very much like the one we have over the creek. It led to nowhere in particular, but it was dressed for the summer season with flowers. It was the perfect place to stop for a picture. Wedding groups were photographed there. A subtle tourist attraction to be sure. Yet, it was enough to make a traveler want to walk around , stop for lunch, and yes, take a picture.

The appeal of downtown should be a shared responsibility between the merchants, through the BID, and the Batavia City Council. I appreciate the due diligence of those who hold steadfast to their belief that not one cent of their tax money should be spent on what they consider frills. I, also, know that it can lead to penny wise but pound foolish. Attracting people to our downtown area increases revenue for the city and the merchants.

John Roach
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The flower pots hanging from the lampposts (which is the issue) had already been bought by BID. They were put up at City expense and will be taken down at City expense,. The City takes care of them.

For us to pay even more, when people are complaining about streets and sidewalks should not have been considered. There are a lot of better things we could do with $1,900 and that will last longer

tim raines
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Does Batavia not have any money?

Apparently.

Bob Harker
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The right way to phrase that question, Tim, is do the TAXPAYERS have any money, and is this how they want it spent.

Mark Potwora
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Why do we even have a budget that gets voted on,if during the year councilman such as Canale can amend and spend money that wasn't even the budget..Since he has been on council all he has voted for are measures that cost the city taxpayer money..When does he come up with something that saves the city money..BID director Burkle couldn't even show up at the meeting to beg for flower money.....Thanks to the Deleo ,Briggs,Jankowski and Christian for trying to be a good steward of our tax dollars....Hawley has been a great disappointment.............Whats that saying you can put lipstick on a pig but its a............................
Put all the flowers on Main you want...The Mall is still a dump...

Kyle Couchman
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My question is this.... How do these flowers overcome the shadow of the ugly mall in the middle of town? I mean come on people stop and look then wander into the mall and see what buckets everywhere? The smell of the mold in places we cannot see between the roof and the inside ceiling? The buckled floors and the closed and shuttered shops?

That alone would overshadow any pride or sense of community. And would certainly make people from out of town, stopping to explore get back in their cars and drive away quickly.

I really dont think it's about the money, its about the bs fed to us about the reasoning for spending the money. The insult of our intelligence as a community that this expenditure is necessary. Not to mention as several council members pointed out... This seemed so much a done deal that the BID director didn't even bother to show. And it was slipped last minute into council's packets to be voted on with no real discussion.

Bea McManis
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Kyle, you are right about the mall. It is a disgrace and should be demolished. Replace it with two and three story buildings, with shop windows and entrances facing Main St. Return city government back to City Hall. A movie theatre belongs on Main St. It shouldn't be tucked away out of sight. There would still be plenty of parking. I've always liked your idea of a downtown hotel. None of this will happen in my lifetime, but eventually someone will see the vision that will bring about a true merging of city and merchants to make it happen.

John Roach
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Kyle, I'd give the BID director a break here. Councilman Canale said this was all his idea. I am guessing that right now the BID director wishes this never came up.

Jeff Allen
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Just as an aside from the angst about spending and funding, the landscaping and greenery in downtown look very nice this year. Some of the perennials have filled in well.

Kyle Couchman
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I'd give the BID much credit if he suddenly turned around and handed the money back to Canale and said "THANKS BUT NO THANKS"

Its a dream I know but imagine the good will engendered with the taxpayers like us and how stupid the 5 that voted for it would look.

Dave Meyer
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These people give me a pain in the ass!!!
They're worried about a lousy $1900 and they use the words "I promised my constituents I'd be FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE" but yet they vote in favor of an assistant city manager position that will cost us $75K per year plus benefits.

So we're spending a quarter of a million dollars in salary (Molino, Kuzon & the new position) to manage a city with a population less than 16000 people.

Fiscally responsible my ass!!!

John Roach
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Dave, you're very wrong. The four (4) that voted no on the flowers also voted no on the Assistant City Manager

Dave Meyer
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With all due respect John, I don't care who voted for the flowers or not. My point is that they're quibbling about $1900 but they have no problem approving $75K plus benefits for a position WE DON'T NEED.
I completely understand who voted for what and when. I indict Council as a whole for that asst. manager vote.
I'm frankly surprised it hasn't been re-visited. No guts apparently on the part of the no voters?

John Roach
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Dave, that is just stupid to blame the four that tried to stop this, and to blame them is unfair and without merit. They did their best, but lost the vote.

Maybe I missed it, but when did you come to Council and demand the vote for an Asst. manager be revisited? Next meeting is on June 23rd. Will you be there, or "no guts"?

Mark Potwora
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Dave the same who voted against this also voted against the asst manager..The other five are the ones who have no problem wasting money..Looks like this will be the 5-4 council and will ensuring that Malino will get what ever he wants.Next time your taxes go up it will be because of Canale ,Doeringer,Paccio,Hawley and .Cipollone..Its these five who could care less what the public wants and only do what Malino tells them..Remember this next time you vote..I am in the first ward..We have Doeringer.He has done nothing for the people of his area..He is more concerned with appeasing Malino and Vibrant Batavia. I can't wait for this slug to be unelected..Totally worthless to this area..

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