Mayor’s Office
I want to take this opportunity to reflect on my time as an official for the Village of Sloan. In 2005, when I was first elected as Trustee, the Village was faced with a financial deficit, buildings in disrepair, antiquated equipment in our highway and fire departments, and parks. Working as a team with my fellow Board members, Mayor Len Szymanski and our various departments, we undertook the mission of returning to fiscal responsibility while, at the same time, updating our facilities and providing superior services to our residents. We took the challenge of balancing budgets, making them more manageable and accountable to our residents. In the last ten years, our residents have seen only a 2% tax rate increase- not annually, but overall. In 2007, the tax levy on a home assessed at $60,000 was $643.11. In 2016, the tax levy on the same house was $652.80. We accomplished this feat by very careful budgeting, spending, and long-range planning. Recognizing and addressing our own properties’ deteriorating conditions, we replaced roofs on Village Hall, the highway garage, park and pool shelters, and the Community Center. Through a legislative grant, we outfitted all buildings with emergency generators, enabling us to continue providing services even during the event of power outages. In addition, the Fire Hall parking lot was repaved, and the building received new heating/air conditioning, overhead doors, truck room flooring, masonry repairs, outdoor lighting, and more. Overhead doors were also replaced at the highway garage and community center. Continuing our property improvements, the community center received new entrance doors, windows, and sidewalks. The Griffith Park swimming pool, because of plumbing issues, was losing excessive amounts of water daily. We replaced underground piping to the filter, saving thousands of dollars each summer in water costs. We also removed some apparatus from both Griffith and Wrazen parks that became obsolete, replacing it with ADA accessible playground equipment. A regulation size volleyball court was installed along with brand new fencing at Griffith Park. The installation of the volleyball court and ADA equipment was done in-house, by our efficient highway department, saving us thousands of dollars in labor costs. Addressing the needs of our various departments and their abilities to provide the services that our residents deserve was another of the Board’s top priorities. For example, the Department of Public Works replaced lawn tractors with zero-turn mowers, allowing them to work much more efficiently. They also developed and implemented a five-year program for vehicle trade-in and were able to accomplish the replacement of both the hi-lift and the street sweeper in recent years. Through careful planning, we financed this equipment for only two years, saving thousands of dollars in loan interest. I’m happy to say; long-gone are the days of financing equipment over 15 or 20 years. A future need of the highway department in the near term is the replacement of our 2003 plow trucks. Again, through strong fiscal management, we’ve been able to save money in an equipment reserve in order to assist in the future purchase of these costly vehicles. The Sloan Fire Department provides vital emergency services to our residents. They are a dedicated group of men and women who volunteer hours to training, education and our community’s health and safety. In 2015, EMS Captain Paul Zogaria took over the training of our pool lifeguards in their CPR and First Aid certifications. This past October, Paul conducted an open class for our residents. Twelve private citizens are now CPR and 1st Aid certified. The Sloan fire department requires the tools and equipment to continue providing critical services. In 2008, the Village purchased 7-1, an emergency response vehicle, replacing a 1988 Chevy van. Most recently, recognizing a need to replace our 1994 fire truck, a committee lead by all Firematic officers, recommended the purchase of a Rosenbauer Commander Custom Chassis Pumper, which has been placed on order. Expected delivery will be early in 2018. Again, through careful financial planning, the Village was able to pay for 50% of the cost up front, and finance the balance over the next five years. Our Village website is in its eighth year and received almost 29,000 visits in 2016 alone. We have continued the door-to-door delivery of 1450 Sloan Connection newsletters, which focuses on upcoming Village events and projects, and reports from our various departments. Managing a Village is not just about budgeting and services but also creating a sense of community where fun and enjoyable activities are offered, families are engaged, neighborhoods are safe, and properties are well maintained. Our Community Center houses our senior group, which takes trips to theatres, seasonal boat rides and, most popular, outings to the casinos. Daily activities include the Erie County Lunch program, BINGO, Pokeno and exercise with Ed Derenda, our Senior Director. Upstairs, in the supervised Youth Center, are pool tables, air hockey, an adult exercise room, Wii and other electronic games. In the summer, the fun really accelerates as the recreation workers move to Griffith Park and pool, offering weekly themed activities and much more. The Sloan Arts Council will be celebrating its 15th year of providing concerts in the park. 2017 is our 8th year of the Sloan Community Weekend, with a village-wide garage sale to kick it off on Saturday August 26th, followed by the Annual Family Picnic on Sunday the 27th. The Community Weekend is funded by our hugely successful Soup-on-Sunday event every March. As you can see, fun, enjoyment and community is what we continually strive for. Upon being appointed Mayor in 2012, I immediately pursued the purchase of both garbage and recycling totes for our Village. We initiated this partly because the rodent problem had become increasingly worse after several mild winters. Working in cooperation with the Town of Cheektowaga, we received competitive pricing and delivery. At the same time, in an effort to reduce costs, we renegotiated our contract with Modern and switched to an every-other- week recycling schedule. And finally, after four years, we have received the grant of 50% reimbursement for the recycling totes. We feel the tote program has been very successful, as long as you remember if you’re a blue or red street. Another area we addressed is the challenge of maintaining property values and the quality of our housing stock. To do this, we acknowledge that following strict Code Enforcement is absolutely crucial to our neighborhoods. After the housing stock crash in 2008, the number of abandoned properties became numerous in the Village, so we decided to actively pursue absentee owners as well as the banks. Shortly after the crash, we had over 30 “zombie” houses identified. Through the efforts of our Code Enforcement Officer and partnering with the Buffalo and Niagara Land Bank, as well as the passage of the “Foreclosure Relief Act” by the state legislature, we currently have only ten abandoned structures. The Village purchased and demolished the building on Broadway at Halstead, and installed the “Welcome to Sloan” sign at that location. After twenty-five years of abandonment, we razed the structures at 2180 William Street and the old railroad building at the foot of Roland Street. 2015 brought the demolition of the vacant tavern at 278 Reiman Street. Just last fall, we demolished an abandoned structure at 76 Celina that had been gutted by fire. Through the efforts of the office staff, we received full reimbursement for this cost from the foreclosing bank. 83 Roland, which had been abandoned for six years, was also demolished in the fall, and the lot will be sold to a neighbor.  In working with the Land Bank, both 290 Atlantic and 310 Wagner were purchased at the County auction and were rehabilitated. The Atlantic Street property was sold to new owners, and the Wagner location will be listed for sale by the end of this month. The Village partnership with the Land Bank will continue as we tackle new projects, always with the goal of community revitalization and stability in mind. As a final point, I wanted to mention that over the last several years, we have completed over 2 million dollars in sanitary sewer repairs, utilizing Community Development funds and grants from both the DEC and EPA. The Village of Sloan is under Consent Order from the DEC to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows and I & I- inflow and infiltration. We have applied for and received $200,000 in grants for engineering research of our sewers. This research includes flow monitoring, televising, smoke and dye testing, which will be underway in 2017. Trustee Tom Ferrucci and I have met with Erie County Deputy Commissioner of Sanitary Sewers Joe Feigl, Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski and Town Engineer Mark Cristal on several occasions to discuss shared services. Piggybacking on Cheektowaga’s bid for sewer relining, we are in the process of developing a long-term plan to reduce I & I by a relining of the Village’s remaining 55,000 feet of sanitary sewers, at an estimated price tag of $1.5 million. By working with Cheektowaga through the bidding process, the Village will save approximately $800,000 in costs, as the price per linear foot is substantially less than if we went out to bid ourselves. Although this is a costly endeavor, the Village will be applying for available grant money through New York State in 2018. We have enlisted the help of our local Assemblywoman, Monica Wallace, and State Senator, Tim Kennedy, to support us in our pursuit of funding for this effort. In closing, I would like to say that it’s been a real honor serving the Village of Sloan and its people for the past 12 years. We feel very good about what we’ve been able to accomplish and believe the Village is on the right path to continued improvements, financial stability and excellent services to our residents.
From the desk of Mayor James T. Niwinski
© Village of Sloan, NY