Left to Right – Todd Dillon, Dave Carpineti, Brian Marhaver, Kira Miller (sitting), Mark Ruffing, Deborah A. Kaufman (sitting), Laura Powers, Tim Lyon, Jonathan Shaffer, and Dan Carter.

By Dave Warner

The Little Falls Common Council had its swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday night and got down to business with nine resolutions on the agenda, mostly yearly housekeeping measures.

After the approval of the last meeting minutes, bills, and monthly reports, Resolution #1 dealt with the Common Council President. Mark Ruffing was nominated, and a second was made with a unanimous voice vote.

Resolution #2 assigned the Times Telegram as the official newspaper and WKTV as the official news station for 2024.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #3 resolved that the City Treasurer be authorized to pay all fixed salaries on the Common Council payroll bi-weekly with the exception of the Mayor and Aldermen, whose salaries shall be paid in equal monthly installments for the year 2024.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #4 appointed Nick Macri to serve as a Special Prosecutor to prosecute traffic violations that occur within the City for a four-year term.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #5 designated the Holy Family Parish Gymnasium on John Street as the fixed polling place for election districts in the City of Little Falls for 2024.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #6 authorized the Mayor and City Clerk to draw warrants on the City Treasurer for bonds and notes as and when they become due and payable for the year 2024.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #7 involved the need for a new City Attorney for the next four years. Nick Macri, Esq. was appointed with a term to expire on December 31, 2028. The salary for the position was fixed at $38,000, with dental insurance fixed and approved at $780.48 for the year 2024.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #8 dealt with the Senior Account Clerk title for Tina Fox, who had requested a title reclassification to Principal Clerk at step IV, $43,000 per year. The Police and Fire Board was agreeable to the requested title reclassification, and the Police Chief was in support as well.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution #9 authorized the construction of a new ultraviolet disinfection treatment system at the Waste Water Treatment Plant on River Road at an estimated maximum cost of $8,623,000 and authorized the issuance of $8,623,000 in bonds to pay for that cost. The project was required pursuant to the regulations of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

Initially, the City received a $1 million dollar grant for the project and just recently received another $1.89 million in funds. The remainder of the project will be financed through the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) under a hardship loan with a 0% interest rate.

The next steps for this project are as follows:

  • Submit the passed resolution to NYSEFC
  • Authorize construction contracts to go out for competitive bid at the next Council meeting and advertise the project in early January 2024
  • Enter into an Agreement for WIIA grant funds, send in Acknowledgment and Acceptance of the Award to NYSEFC, and execute the contract for the grant funds
  • Receive construction contract bids in February 2024
  • Receive short-term financing from NYSEFC in February 2024
  • Award construction contracts in March/April 2024 (within 60 days of receiving bids)
  • Execute construction contracts with successful bidders and Issue Notice to Proceed to Contractors in April/May 2024
  • Schedule Pre-Construction meeting
  • Construction Phase through February 2025 (substantial completion)
  • Final Completion and Contract Closeout in August/September 2025
  • Close on long-term financing with NYSEFC based on actual project costs

Given that this project is NYSDEC compliance-driven, the City will need to request a time extension from NYSDEC to complete the UV project based on the actual construction schedule provided by the General Contractor once received.

The resolution passed unanimously.

In comments from the floor, Nancy Hanna stood up and had several. She discussed the blight in front of homes on West Main Street and the distressed homes on Church Street. She said, “I’d like to see the City of Little Falls pass an ordinance holding the tenant responsible for the junk on people’s front yards.”

She also mentioned all of the homes in the City that have been abandoned for years.

Hanna also pointed to the water damage on the wall in the council chambers that she had just noticed when entering the room.

She stated, “Little Falls has the potential to attract people. We need middle to upper-income housing. I know people who want to move back, and they need housing.”

Mayor Deborah A. Kaufman responded by saying, “We actually do hold the tenants accountable to a certain extent. We’re doing cleanup on some properties after they’ve gone to court, where the DPW goes out and picks up all the garbage and the trash and charges them for that.”

“We have a lot of distressed properties. We’re working on it. There are different landbank programs, some not as useful as we had hoped. However, we have some new partners that are cropping up in the County, and we’ll see how that goes,” she said. “We’re really working towards programs where we can take some of those houses and make them livable.”

Kaufman continued stating, “We’re really suffering in the mid to upper-income areas. We just don’t have a lot of housing stock, and what we do have is very dated.”

In the Mayor’s comments section, she said, “I’m really delighted to be here. I’m so appreciative of those who have supported me in this election. We have a lot of good things happening, and just like Nancy was talking about, we have a lot of wonderful assets in the City.”

As to the water damage, Kaufman said, “This is a beautiful building, and we’re looking for additional funding to be able to restore City Hall. It’s such an asset, but it is not an inexpensive thing to do.”

Kaufman said the new administration would be looking to enhance communication and cooperation and would make a commitment to moving the City forward. “We’re going to do that by really leaning into things that make us more resilient. That allow us to stabilize and grow. We need a really strong foundation. Things are going to change starting today. We’re going to seize the opportunity and explore our potential.”

“You have my commitment – we are going to get things moving in an exciting way,” Kaufman stated.