UPDATE [DECEMBER 18, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.]
The Public Hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. regarding the Annexation of the BPU substation property located on Dow Street has been cancelled due to inclement weather. A new Hearing date will be rescheduled and announced soon.
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JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council will be joining the Falconer village board and the Ellicott Town board later this week in hosting a joint public hearing on the annexation of the Dow Street Substation property in Falconer.
The hearing will take place at Jamestown Community College’s Robert Scharmann Theatre at
7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Under law, a hearing is required to take place before a vote on the annexation can occur. The hearing groundwork was laid during the city council’s November voting session, when the council voted 7 to 1 in favor of initiating the annexation process.
The city of Jamestown is arguing that it is the best public interest to bring the substation property into the city boundaries. The property is currently owned by the city through the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and the BPU currently pays an estimated $333,000 a year in taxes to Falconer, Ellicott, the Falconer School District and Chautauqua County.
If the property were in the city of Jamestown, the BPU would not have to pay any taxes on the property but would make a payment in lieu of taxes of about $80,000 to both the city of Jamestown general operating budget and to Jamestown Public Schools.
Because of the loss of tax payment, Falconer, Ellicott, and Falconer School officials have all voiced their opposition to annexation.
The matter has already been taken up once, with the council voting in 2017 in favor of the annexation. But both Ellicott and Falconer challenged the annexation, and as a result it became a matter for the courts to decide on. In August of this year the New York 4th Appellate Division Rochester ruled that the annexation could not go forward because of a technicality with the city failing to file legal paperwork on time. As a result, the process has to start all over again.
The city council will have up to 90 days to vote on the annexation once a public hearing is held, and the next city council voting session is scheduled for Monday, December 30. However, Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi recently told WRFA that the city council wont likely take up the annexation resolution at the end of this month, and will instead wait until after the new year when the new city council and a new mayor is sworn in.
Teresi also told WRFA that no matter how the process plays out and regardless of the steps that may need to be taken before it comes to a conclusion, it won’t cost the BPU electric division more than the $75,000 that was already committed in November. That’s because the law firm representing the city – Bond, Schnoeneck and King – also represented the city in the previous annexation effort and much of the groundwork for the lawsuit has already taken place.
In the previous annexation effort the BPU eventually spent over $420,000 from its electric division to pay for the case as it unfolded. Meanwhile, Falconer, Ellicott, and Falconer School District paid a over $300,000.