Weekly Feature

2016-08-11 / Front Page

Village Board takes Climate Smart Pledge


The Lancaster Village Board is taking steps toward the village becoming a Climate Smart Community.

At Monday night’s meeting, the board received and filed correspondence from state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos to Mayor Paul Maute that praised the village for adopting the Climate Smart Communities Pledge.

The motion, which was unanimously approved at the July 11 meeting, entailed submitting a grant application and subsequently accepting funds from the DEC in an amount up to $500,000.

The Climate Smart Communities Program is essentially a partnership between state and local governments. In addition to the DEC, the departments of State, Transportation and Health; the Energy Research and Development Authority; and the Public Service Commission are involved with the program.

According to Seggos’ letter, “the program focuses on technical, financial and leadership resources to help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt their communities to a changing climate.”

The program is theoretically beneficial at both the state and community level.

“The benefit is that we’ll receive a better partnership and alignment with some of the state agencies,” Trustee Dawn Robinson said. “They’re already pushing out better information to us on how to take the next step in becoming a Climate Smart Community. … I think it will better align us to seek grant opportunities that will help with green initiatives. It’s a win-win for the community.”

The program could be of benefit to Lancaster when it comes to levee reaccredidation. As of now, the village’s levees are decertified. An upcoming flood-plain analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency will show how many homes in the village could be affected by this. However, Robinson said it could be up to 300 homes.

Any of those homes that have a federally backed mortgage would have to get flood insurance. This could cost $1,200 to $1,500, which Robinson says is more than the average resident pays in village taxes. Thus, reaccredidation could potentially save residents a sizable sum of money.

“We want to help keep the cost of living low and make sure we’re maintaining that so we don’t see property values decrease,” Robinson said. “One of our residents pointed out at a meeting that this happened in Olean, assessments going up in both townships,” she told The Bee. “When assessments increase, that results in a lower tax rate.”

The differences in tax rates between the towns are a result of the equalization rate, which is New York State’s measurement of a municipality’s level of assessment.

Cheektowaga’s equalization rate is 100 percent, meaning the state believes that the total assessment value is close to the total market value, while in Lancaster the figure is 95 percent.

According to Arena, the adopted tax rates were due to Erie County by Wednesday. The county prepares the district’s tax bills.

The next regular meeting of the School Board has been rescheduled from Tuesday, Aug. 16, to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, in the cafeteria at the high school, 5210 S. Transit Road, Depew.

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