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Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:32 am

Some business property owners shocked by re-assessment, but process is flexible, city says

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

For the first time since 2005, Batavia's commercial property owners are getting their parcels re-assessed and the effort has been greeted with some decidedly mixed reviews.

With some property owners being told their initial re-assessment shows an increase in value of 55 percent to 400 percent -- adding $70,000 or $95,000 or $120,000 per parcel -- there is a bit of a sticker shock.

Re-assessing commercial property when it hasn't been done for eight years isn't an easy process, explained Rhonda Saulsbury, the city's assessor. There are a number of factors to consider and the initial re-assessment is sometimes based, admittedly, on incomplete information.

That makes it important for property owners to help fill in the blanks for the assessor's office.

"The goal here is to keep property values as fair as possible citywide," Saulsbury said in an e-mail. "Without going through this process (after 8 years) that wouldn’t be possible. I have also reduced a great number of assessments citywide resulting from the same methodologies. I do not hesitate to make an adjustment down when given reasonable information to substantiate the change in value.

"Until someone reaches out to me with an issue," she added, "I can’t fix it."

Local property owners have confirmed that after responding to the initial re-assessment letter to the city and providing more evidence about the status of their buildings, Saulsbury has adjusted, and even rescinded the increase in value.

One local businessman with at least two commercial properties downtown was actually notified that the value of one property was reduced. He didn't complain about that re-assessment.

Another property owner said his assessment only increased 10 percent.

So while some property owners are being hit hard, the impact isn't uniform.

The criteria for reassessment is almost an endless list, Saulsbury said, and includes location, property use, rentable space, income generated, building updates, additions, demolitions and deferred maintenance.

The assessor, from just looking at the building, can't know all of these details, which is why property owner feedback is an important part of the process.

If a property value increases substantially, she said, the assessor's office believes there's a reason for it -- such as a former warehouse being converted to office space, but it's still important for a property owner to clarify any concerns.

City Manager Jason Molino said the process is intended to be one in which property owners provide feedback on the assessment.

"Review procedure and phone numbers are included in the notices sent to property owners that receive a change in their assessment, as we encourage an open door policy to anyone with a question or concern," Molino said.

Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Photos: Y gets 14 new pieces of equipment in Wellness Center

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, fitness, YMCA

The Wellness Center at the YMCA is getting an equipment upgrade today with 14 new pieces of equipment, including stair steppers, virtual bikes and treadmills.

The cost of the new equipment is about $60,000.

Pictured with one of the new virtual bikes is John Becker, Wellness Center coordinator, and trainer Stacie Ewert.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

Tim Horton's proposal highlights growing traffic problem at Lewiston and West Main

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Tim Horton's

Town of Batavia Highway Superintendent Tom Lichtenthal and engineer Joey Neth spent an hour on the rooftop of the Rite Aid overlooking Lewiston Road and videotaped the traffic flow, or lack of it.

The resulting highlight reel, played for the Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night, captured eight near-miss accidents, two dangerous maneuvers by drivers, five unsafe mid-road crossings by pedestrians and two bicycle crossings.

An hour observing West Main Street Road near Colonial Boulevard didn't yield much better results.

For the Lewiston Road side, the driveway for Rite Aid and the driveway for the Tops Plaza, essentially create an intersection, and over the past three years, there have been seven accidents at that intersection.

That's seven times the state DOT average, Lichtenthal said.

"What's going on here is we have so many conflict points, when you look at this intersection; you've got cars merging here; you've got a wide open driveway where one makes a right turn and one makes a left turn; you've got pedestrians trying to cross in the middle of traffic, plus cars coming off the Main Street intersection, and you're looking at all of these things coming together right here, and that's why you get so many of these types of accidents," Lichtenthal said.

The traffic study was conducted because Tim Horton's wants to build a new store behind the Rite Aid, that would connect, essentially, Lewiston with Main.

The overall traffic Tim Horton's is likely to generate isn't that significant by itself -- an average of 50 to 60 cars an hour, with 60 percent of Tim Horton's traffic occurring in a three-hour period in the morning.

Technically, the road capacity in the area, can handle the volume, Lichtenthal said, but the construction of the multiple turning lanes and intersections in the area make for very messy traffic patterns.

It's a situation that's only going to get worse with the expansion of Batavia Towne Center and Batavia Downs.

Lichtenthal said that, unfortunately, it's a classic case of the last one (in this case, Tim Horton's) getting stuck dealing with the problem.

Matthew J. Oates (photo), chief engineer for Benderson Development Co. took a different view.

The combined retail space for Tops Plaza, Rite Aid and the other retail in the area is more than 220,000 square feet, while the Benderson development is less than 20,000 square feet.

He said just as the DOT did when problems got too bad on Jefferson Road and Ridge Road in Rochester, the growing traffic problems on Lewiston and West Main are a DOT issue and shouldn't hold up development of Tim Horton's.

"I understand the town sees a large issue with the traffic, but without the traffic, we wouldn't have the interest in the development and without the traffic, Tim Horton's wouldn't be coming here, so one follows the other," Oates said.

Lichtenthal pointed out that the DOT is out of money and the Feds aren't sending highway grants down the pipeline any longer to help with local traffic issues.

"The DOT is now looking back and the towns and saying, 'you let this development happen without looking at the repercussions on the roadways. Now you expect us to fix it, ' " Lichtenthal said, "and they're telling the towns, 'you fix it.' "

The environmental review process was extended by consent of the planning board and Benderson in order to see if a solution can be found, or plan developed, to deal with the growing traffic issues.

Tim Horton's is just one step along the way, Lichtenthal said.

"These are baby steps," Lichtenthal said. "You take these baby steps and add them together and it's a big step and then what do you do?"

Last week, the Geness County Economic Development Center Board approved $1.7 million in tax breaks for COR Development to add four more retail spaces to the Batavia Towne Center in the location of the former Lowe's store.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 5:47 am

NY is Open for Business

post by Bob Harker in Andrew Cuomo, business, ny, politics, taxes

"ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Chief Executive magazine ranks New York as the49th worst state for business in the opinion of CEOs questioned. The ninth annual survey of CEOs blamed New York's high taxes, bureaucracy and a regulatory system that is difficult to navigate. The CEOs ranked New York just better than California. Most larger states with strong labor unions faired poorly in the rankings. CEOs liked Texas most for the ninth straight year, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. The ranking comes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing a "New York Open for Business" campaign with TV ads that say the Empire State is now far more welcoming of business and employers. A Cuomo spokesman notes the state is now at its highest work force size ever."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Development pipeline for Town of Batavia getting crowded

It will be another summer of new commercial development in the Town of Batavia, with three  projects already up for Planning Board review, and that doesn't include the expansion project at Batavia Towne Center.

  • GCEDC/GGLDC is planning a second two-story building at the Upstate Med-Tech Center on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from GCC. The complex will be 60,000 square feet and be planned for industrial, research and office space.
  • An as-yet-undisclosed company is planning a 60,000 square foot cold storage facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park. It will be on 10 acres adjacent Alpina's plant and serve Alpina's cold storage needs. The facility require a 42-foot high silo, which is seven feet higher than allowed under current code without a variance.
  • A local man is planning a plant that will digest waste from yogurt production -- about 70 percent of the milk product from making yogurt becomes waste -- into products that can be used for other needs or converted into energy.

All three projects will be discussed at the planning board's meeting May 21.

Applications for COR's conversion of the former Lowe's location into four retail spaces hasn't reach the town yet.

There's also the housing development off Seven Springs Road that's still going through the planning process.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

UMMC receives surgical care award

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, UMMC

Press release:

On April 29, 2013, Univera Healthcare presented United Memorial with an award recognizing the greatest improvement in Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) Measures for the 2012 Hospital Performance Incentive Program (HPIP) Measurement period for the Western New York region. Daniel Ireland, COO and VP of Support Services accepted the award on behalf of United Memorial at the annual HPIP Quality Forum.

The Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) is a national quality partnership of organizations interested in improving surgical care by significantly reducing surgical complications.

United Memorial was selected for this prestigious award out of participating HPIP hospitals in Western New York because it improved its Surgical Quality of Care Composite score from 91.53% to 95.87%. The composite measures the organization’s effectiveness in implementing eight evidence based measures in Surgical Care Improvement. Such measures include use of Beta-Blocker therapy during surgery when indicated; use of preventative antibiotics in a timely manner and discontinuance of those antibiotics at the appropriate time; urinary catheter removal promptly following surgery (within the first two days from the date of surgery); use of venous thromboembolism prevention strategies on all surgical patients when indicated; and others.

United Memorial increased this composite score over a period of one year through multiple strategies including physician engagement, staff education, and standardization of clinical practices. This award follows closely on the opening of the new Surgical Center in 2011 which provided state-of-the-art surgical facilities and processes to the Genesee County region.

“Participation in initiatives to improve quality of care demonstrates United Memorial’s commitment to continuously improve the healthcare of our community,” stated CEO Mark Schoell. “It furthers our promise of delivering quality care, right at home.”

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Child care center opening at Robert Morris

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Robert Morris School

Press release:

Imagination Station Child Care & Preschool will be opening its third location in Batavia on June 3. The newest center will be located at the Robert Morris Elementary School, in the heart of Batavia. The center is centrally located and easy to access from Main Street or Route 98 (Oak Street).    

This family owned and operated child care center opened in Alden, where owners Erik and Kelly Kronbeck reside and are a part of the community. Since opening the Alden location in January, 2011, they have opened a second location in Le Roy, and are excited to be adding a third location to service the needs within the surrounding communities.  

Imagination Station contributes its success to their high standards.

Owner and operator Kelly Kronbeck said “Our program encompasses everything that we wanted as parents, a safe and nurturing environment, one that’s high quality and is professionally run. Of course the teacher in me also wanted one that was academically based and stimulating for our children.” 

Prior to opening her first center, Kelly Kronbeck worked for one of the leading child care centers in Buffalo and taught second grade in Glens Falls, which is where her passion for teaching and importance of early childhood education blossomed.                   

Imagination Station provides care for families with children 6 weeks to 12-years-old. Full-time, part-time, and flexible schedules are welcomed, along with public assistance. 

Imagination Station is offering its new families the first week free when they enroll for the Batavia center prior to June 3rd! Tours are offered daily during operating hours and in the evenings by appointment at one of their other locations. Visit www.istationccp.com for more information or call 585-768-8025 to set up a tour today!

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

UMMC recognizes volunteers at annual awards dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in announcements, batavia, business, UMMC

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center held a dinner on May 2, 2013 at Bohn’s restaurant to recognize volunteer service within the organization. Their gifts of time were spent filing records in Human Resources, assisting visitors, comforting family members waiting for a loved one in surgery, stuffing envelopes in the Foundation, helping patients on Hope Haven, serving coffee at the refreshment kiosks at the Hospital and at the Jerome Center, and helping someone choose just the right item in the gift shop.

Their dedication and compassion assists United Memorial in caring for patients and visitors every day. Volunteers are part of our team and part of our UMMC family. We depend on them and turn to them when we need a helping hand with a daily task or need their input on a large project.

Each year, United Memorial and our auxiliaries, the UMMC League and St. Jerome Guild, Inc. honor volunteers who have reached milestones in the cumulative number of hours they have volunteered. This year Guild members Priscilla Dirisio, Jean Havens and Rosemarie Monachino received pins commemorating 100 hours of service. Debbie Pellegrino, Marge Rimmer, Judy Thrasher, and Fran Wigton were honored for 1,000 hours; Betty Luperino received her 2,000 hour pin; and Mary Grace Demarse was honored for 3,000 hours.

Dorothy Baker, the 2011 Genesee County Health and Humanitarian honoree, received her 20,000 hour pin; the equivalent of more than 10 years of full time employment. Dorothy volunteers at the Jerome Center Gift Shop and Refreshment Kiosk and organizes the annual poinsettia and spring flower sales.

League members who were honored include Kathy Hoerbelt and Norma Meyers for 300 hours; Lil Irrera and Carol Smith for 500 hours; Anne Barone and Tim Weatherbee received pins for 700 hours; Doris Lindebauer reached the 1,000 hour milestone; Kay Benton the 1,500 hour; and Linda Pembroke, 3,500.

Augustine Fleming, has volunteered at United Memorial’s Hope Haven unit for over 7,000 hours. Her dedicated volunteer hours to patients recovering from addiction would equal nearly four years of full time employment.

Last year, 79 individuals volunteered 14,689 hours to United Memorial; over 20 months of time compressed into one year.   United Memorial measures the time they have donated since their true gifts of compassion, empathy and care they each bring to the lives of our patients, visitors and colleagues is immeasurable.

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Resturant owner Mike Bohn passes at age 70

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business

Longtime local restaurant owner Mike Bohn, 70, died Wednesday following a brief illness.

Bohn operated Bohn's on Clinton Street since 1985.

Calling hours will be Sunday from 2 until 7 p.m. at Bohm, Smith Calarco Funeral Home in Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church.

Friday, May 3, 2013 at 9:42 am

Collins proposes payroll tax deferral for small businesses with new employees

post by Howard B. Owens in business, chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) pushed the Main Street Revival Act (H.R. 952) in Batavia today. The bipartisan legislation will help promote economic growth and fill vacancies along America’s main streets. Collins is the lead Republican cosponsor of the legislation in the House.

“If Washington is serious about getting our economy back on track, we need to get serious about supporting American small business,” Collins said. “Encouraging and incentivizing new small businesses, particularly in struggling areas, will be critical to rebuilding our economy and this legislation does just that.”

The Main Street Revival Act would allow a small business to defer payment of payroll taxes for one year after it hires its first employee. The taxes will be paid back in equal installments over the subsequent four years. The deferment would hopefully provide meaningful relief to a new small business, or one which is just at the beginning stages of growth, which is traditionally a hard time for my small business owners.

“The ability to defer payroll taxes for one year may be just enough of a break to help a new small business owner hire one more person or purchase a new piece of equipment,” said Collins. “This legislation represents the practical, commonsense solutions Washington needs to take to nurture small business development, create jobs, and spur real economic development in our communities.”

To encourage growth in hard-hit areas, the legislation provides the tax deferral incentive to businesses located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZones) as defined by the Small Business Administration. In NY-27, sections of Batavia, Depew, Lancaster, Lockport, Medina, and Livingston County are designated as HUBZones.

The bill is also limited to true small businesses, those which expect to hire no more than 25 people during the year period for which payroll taxes can be deferred. Lastly, the H.R. 952 makes clear that nothing in the bill will reduce the Social Security or Medicare trust funds.

Collins was joined by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Freeman who praised the legislation.

Collins is partnering with Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, on the legislation. “Good ideas that help our small businesses know no political party,” Swalwell said. “I welcome Rep. Collins of New York as the lead Republican cosponsor of the Main Street Revival Act. This bill was inspired by walking the Main Streets of my district and talking with business owners – Republicans and Democrats – about ways the federal government can help them get off the ground, hire employees and succeed. This is sensible legislation to speed up local economic development in the neighborhoods that need it most.”

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