Ellery’s town planning council has been abolished.

Last week Ellery Town board members approved the measure in a 4-0 vote.

According to Ellery Town Supervisor Lawrence Anderson, the council was struggling to achieve quorums or the minimum number of members to conduct its business.

“It’s bad attendance” Anderson said. “It’s been done in other cities.”

City Attorney Neil Robinson said the proposal was discussed at the May 12 board meeting and a public hearing was scheduled for Thursday to consider a proposed Local Law No. 1 of 2022 to combine the planning council and the municipal zoning appeal board.

Robinson echoed Anderson’s thoughts and said the law was due to the city struggling to get people to attend every council meeting.

“The local law would eliminate the Town of Ellery Planning Board and transfer the functions of the Planning Board to the Zoning Appeals Board. Some other towns in the county have done it for the same reason,” said Robinson.

City council members approved by a 4-0 vote an environmental impact statement detailing that combining the councils will have no adverse effects on the environment. The law has been filed with the New York State Department, which means it should be official within weeks.

The five-person planning board will transfer to the zoning board, resulting in seven zoning board members and three alternates. The current terms of transferred planning board members will transfer to the zoning board, Robinson said.

Chautauqua County Legislator Pierre Chagnon updated the board of directors on the savings the city has realized from changing the calculation of workers’ compensation costs for the county. Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who suffer from work-related injuries and illnesses. Many local city, town, and city governments are covered by Chautauqua County, which then bills the local government for a share of the cost of the plan.

Lawmakers recently approved changes to how the county’s self-insurance plan for workers’ compensation is billed. Forty percent of the plan’s costs were previously based on property assessment, which meant cities with fewer employees but larger property bases contributed more to the system. From January, workers’ compensation costs will instead be based on employee wages – which hits the two towns and the town of Westfield the hardest because they have the most employees. The town of Jamestown, in particular, is hit harder because it has paid off police and firefighters, while the town of Dunkirk is largely hit by its police department.

The biggest drop was the town of Chautauqua, which would pay $112,158 less. The second biggest drop was for Ellery, which would pay $46,873 less, followed by Ellicott, which would pay $39,724 less, according to the article.

“The 2023 fee for the municipality of Ellery compared to 2022 is down 76%. If you read the newspaper, you know the cities are not happy about it. said Chagnon. “Towns and towns overpaid and towns and the heavily-staffed village of Westfield underpaid.”

In other business, the board voted 3-1 to move its meeting to the second Tuesday of each month and will begin July 12.

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