JAMESTOWN _ The Jamestown City Council once again heard from Falconer Mayor James Rensel on Monday night as he continues to make a plea for the city to abandon its effort to annex a piece of city-owned property in the village.
The city is looking to annex the Board of Public Utilities‘ (BPU) Dow Street Substation in Falconer, claiming it is in the public interest because it would help to stabilize utility rates because of a reduction in expenses by the BPU. Currently the BPU pays an estimated $360,000 in property taxes on the property to Falconer, Ellicott, the Falconer School District and the county. The BPU would save half of that amount if the property were located within the city.
Rensel has appeared at numerous council meetings and work sessions in recent months, including last week’s work session when he urged council members to stop the annexation effort. On Monday night, he spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying that it appears residents in the city are not in favor of the annexation because no one came out in support of it during the June 12 public hearing on the matter.
“The purpose was to measure the different interests in this annexation initiative and from what I saw at the hearing, there is no interest on your side for this annexation,” Rensel said. “As I mentioned in the work session last week, who are you representing if no one from your side showed up at this hearing to advocate for this annexation? No one showed up, so who are you representing.”
Following the meeting, WRFA asked both Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi and city council president Gregory Rabb if they’ve received feedback on the annexation from their constituents. Teresi said that just because no one from Jamestown spoke in favor of the annexation during the public hearing doesn’t mean everyone is against it.
“I think it’s a bit of an over statement to say that there is no one in the city of Jamestown [supporting annexation] because they weren’t among the 200 people at a public hearing in Falconer and the 29 that chose to speak,” explained Teresi, who also serves as de facto chair of the BPU due to his role as mayor. “None of the residents are supportive of this. Obviously there are nine members of the Board of Public Utilities, along with the BPU staff, that decided to send this to the city council, and the city council is going through its due diligence process right now, including reaching out to the constituency and getting a handle as to what people are thinking in the community.”
Rabb, also a member of the BPU due to his appointment as council president, said that he’s talked with several residents in recent weeks about the annexation issue, and said that none have voiced opposition to it.
“The only comments I’ve received on the annexation proposal was not against it and not necessarily in favor of it. They were asking questions and after I explained it to them, they understood why we were doing it and they were supportive,” Rabb said. “So most people out in the neighborhoods aren’t really talking about it. They certainly have not said they are against it, and when I share with them the reasons they say, ‘oh, I can see why you are doing it.'”
The city, village of Falconer, and Town of Ellicott must all vote on the annexation proposal within 90 days of the June 12 public hearing. If there is not a unanimous agreement on the annexation, the matter will then be decided by the New York State Appellate Division Court in Rochester.