Code Enforcement Agreement Finalized

BUSTI – The Busti Town Board approved the code enforcement officer agreement with Lakewood at a recent meeting.

The contract splits the $45,000 salary of a full-time code enforcement officer between the town and village. In exchange for receiving half of the officer’s time, Lakewood would reimburse Busti $22,500. Payments will be made on a monthly basis. The agreement still sits in the initial stages, and the contract lasts until June of next year with a 90-day cancellation clause for the village in case things do not work out.

In other news, Councilman Ken Lawton announced the new name for the Lakewood-Busti Bike and Fitness Trail: LoCo Rail Trail. Standing for Lower County Rail Trail, a website recently launched at locotrail.org. Currently only showing a map, the website will provide more information in the future.

The project is estimated to cost $1.6 million with a grant matching most of the total cost. This means Busti would have to put up $400,000 for the project over the next five years. If the money was raised, but the town didn’t receive matching funds, it would be kept in the safekeeping of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, which would be for bike trail usage only, whenever the trail does get built.

Councilman Brett Mucheck will be representing Busti in the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance.

The Chautauqua Lake Management Commission – currently an advisory group – plans to progress into an alliance to secure federal and state funds for alliance members via grant writing and leveraging local funds. It would be a nonprofit and wouldn’t be a taxing district nor a layer of government. The mission would be to work in collaboration with lake and watershed-related organizations, municipalities and other stakeholders to promote and facilitate implementation of recommendations from the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan and the Chautauqua Lake Macrophyte Management Strategy by prioritizing projects, securing funding and allocating resources.

Busti for years maintained an A1 credit rating with Moody’s Investors Service. However, after the end of the year, Moody’s will no longer maintain ratings on New York local governments that do not provide annual financial statements audited by a third party.

Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, said the company will no longer accept an audit from Busti’s auditor, and will want a second audit done, which costs at minimum $5,000. The board, however, doesn’t know if this change needs to happen nor what changes come with this new policy.

“I’m not sure I want to spend $5,000 for approving this audit if we aren’t getting anything,” said Richard Thor, Busti councilman. He said he felt like a gun was being held to the town’s head in this regard. The town eventually decided to table the issue and talk to other towns and villages – such as Lakewood and Chautauqua, that also will be affected by the new requirement – before deciding what to do.

Jeff Swanson, temporary inspection officer, brought up the need for a Comprehensive Plan Oversight Committee and a fireworks permit fee. In regard to the comprehensive plan, Swanson noted Busti needed a code overhaul.

“I think some of these older codes and everything need change,” Swanson said. “They need to get looked at.”

In regard to the fireworks permit fee, he suggested the town ask for at least a $50 fee for a fireworks permit considering it takes time out of the day to look at sites. As he pointed out, all other permits these days require fees. The town decided to table both issues to look for people to join the committee and to see how other towns and villages handle fireworks.