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AUBURN
Public hearing for Auburn traffic law update scheduled for Thursday

Auburn residents will have the opportunity to give their input on the proposed update to parts of the city's vehicle and traffic law — which includes an overnight parking ban on a portion of Genesee Street. 

The hearing will take place during the Auburn City Council meeting at Memorial City Hall at 6 p.m. Thursday. Proposed changes include:

• prohibiting overnight parking on Genesee Street from 3 to 6 a.m. from James Street to Owasco and John streets. 

• adding a prohibited left turn onto Genesee Street from Garrow Street for the purposes of enhancing traffic flow for Genesee Elementary School during school pick-up and drop-off hours.

• removing the traffic signal at the intersection of State and Cottage streets, replacing it with a two-way stop sign.

• establishing a 20 mph school speed limit on Court Street between Genesee Street and Westlake Avenue for the benefit of children attending Westminster Nursery School and the YMCA Summit School.

• removing parking meters on Dill Street where the Centro Bus station will be relocating.

The overnight parking ban on Genesee Street has been enforced on a temporary basis since Dec. 21, Auburn Police Department Traffic Coordinator Officer Greg Gilfus said. Signs reading "No overnight parking allowed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m." have been posted along Genesee Street alerting residents of the rule change, which was spurred by complaints from some businesses about lack of parking for customers due to downtown residents leaving their cars parked on the street for long periods of time. The new parking ban will also make it easier for the department of public works to plow the streets during the winter, the effects of which have already been noticed by residents during the recent periods of snowy weather. 

Auburn Downtown Business Improvement District Executive Director Stephanie DeVito said she has received numerous positive comments recently about how nicely Genesee Street has been plowed. Gilfus agreed and said the ban "did help with the snow removal tremendously."

Officers did issue numerous warnings during the first two weeks but Gilfus said he does not know if any tickets have been issued since Jan. 4 when the warning period ended.   

"It has gotten better, but its not 100 percent," Gilfus said of the downtown parking situation. "It's shown improvement."

If council votes to adopt the changes to the vehicle and traffic law on Jan. 18, the overnight parking ban will become permanent. 


VILLAGES
Moravia secures REDC grant

The village of Moravia received a $17,278 state grant in December to update its comprehensive plan, which was created and published more than 50 years ago.

With assistance from Cayuga County, the village of Moravia received the award from New York state’s Regional Economic Development Council program for its Moravia Climate Smart Communities Certification and Comprehensive Planning project. This project is administered through the state Department of Environmental Conservation, specifically the Climate Smart Communities Program as adaptability to climate change will be a focus in the village's new comprehensive plan. The original document was created in 1965.

The county noticed the village’s site plan was out of date, and “the county found the grant for us,” Mayor Gary Mulvaney said, adding that county staff also helped with the application.

Moving forward, the county is continuing to help the village develop the new plan and work toward the Climate Smart Communities Certification, Mulvaney said.

“The village has a different ... board that is more progressive than it was in 1965,” which is just one of many reasons the plan needs to be updated, Mulvaney said.

The plan is something that the village “needs to have” in place if they want to apply for other grants in the future, Mulvaney explained.

The plan also lays out rules and regulations that are important for new businesses that may want to come to the village.

As for the businesses in the village currently, “I don’t think it will be a big change,” Mulvaney said.

Although the award is for $17,278 and is a matching grant, Mulvaney is unsure of the total project cost since they just started going through all of the paperwork.

The village’s Planning Board, which meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month, hopes to involve the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development at their next meeting to share more information and begin moving forward, Mulvaney said.

To learn more about the Climate Smart Communities Certification program visit dec.ny.gov/energy/96511.html.


Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Author Dale Elster, of Auburn, placed third in the Narrate Your Own "Twilight Zone" contest, a writing competition held by the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.


Eye_on_ny
BUSINESS
NY attorney general investigating propane suppliers for possible misconduct

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation after his office received numerous complaints from consumers about possible misconduct by propane suppliers. 

The complaints were filed over the last week when temperatures dipped into the single digits and wind chill values were below zero across the state. 

According to Schneiderman's office, consumers reported that it took days for their propane company to respond to their calls. In other cases, consumers reported that they never received a response from their propane supplier. 

There were also complaints about price increases and fees. Some people said they called their propane company for days and finally received a delivery over the weekend, but the company forced them to pay a weekend delivery fee of up to $150 or $200. 

Complaints also indicated that some companies refused to fill another supplier's propane tank and told consumers to buy new tanks from their company, according to the attorney general's office. 

Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office intervened and helped some consumers get the propane they needed to heat their homes. But, he added, there were "systemic failures" that left many consumers without much-needed fuel. 

"I will not allow any business to exploit a weather emergency and leave New Yorkers in the cold," Schneiderman said. "That's why I'm launching an investigation into possible misconduct by propane suppliers across the state, and will not hesitate to take action on behalf of consumers when necessary." 

Schneiderman urged New Yorkers who believe they are victims of price gouging or other misconduct by a propane company to contact his office. The phone number for the attorney general's hotline is (518) 776-2000. You may also file a complaint online at ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form. 

The complaints will help with the attorney general's investigation and Schneiderman said his staff could help resolve individual issues facing consumers. 


NEW YORK
Senate Republicans want to eliminate school property taxes for seniors

State Senate Republicans unveiled a plan Tuesday to eliminate school property taxes for New York seniors over the next decade.

The proposal was mentioned in the conference's 2018 legislative agenda released Tuesday. Republicans want to make the property tax cap permanent, increase property tax rebate checks and a new freeze on school property taxes for seniors at current levels.

The new freeze would be a precursor to eliminating school property taxes for seniors over the next 10 years.

"From the seniors being forced to choose between paying their property taxes or medical bills, to the harried, hardworking parents who must juggle two or three jobs to stay afloat, to every cash-strapped person in between, they are our priority," said state Sen. Catharine Young, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

The state has programs in place to reduce the property tax burden for seniors. The Enhanced STAR program provides an exemption for seniors ages 65 and older with incomes of $86,000 or less. The benefit applies to the first $66,800 of the value of a home, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Municipalities also have the option of providing a senior citizens exemption on property taxes. Local governments and school districts can reduce the assessment of a senior-owned home by up to 50 percent. Seniors are eligible if their incomes are no more than $29,000 a year.

Smaller exemptions can be granted for seniors whose annual incomes exceed $29,000.

But the Senate Republicans' plan would go further by completing eliminating school property taxes for seniors.

Lisa Green, business manager at the Auburn Enlarged City School District, said she is not opposed to helping seniors. One question she posed is whether the state would make up for the lost school property tax revenue, which is a major source of funding for districts across New York.

"If that's the case, then I don't think we would have any issue with it," she said.

The Republicans' proposal could benefit millions of New Yorkers. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates released in 2016, 15.4 percent of the state's residents are ages 65 and older.