Federal officials to visit Sunset Bay for dredging

HANOVER – Help for the Sunset Bay Cattaraugus Creek mouth may be on the way.

At the town of Hanover workshop and regular meeting Monday, Chautauqua County Legislator and chairman of the Lake Erie Management Commission George Borrello delivered promising news.

Borrello announced that Congressman Tom Reed and Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Margaret Burcham will be visiting Sunset Bay to talk about possible funding and solutions for issues with the harbor on Oct. 7. They will meet at the Hanover boat launch on Triangle Drive at 2:45 p.m.

“We’re going right to the top and we hope to get some answers,” Borrello said.

In July, Borrello met with federal, state and local officials and explained that Lake Erie is at historically low water levels. He added that the need for dredging is “beyond urgent.”

He said of the upcoming visit, “We’ll explain more in detail the challenges we’re facing and the need for dredging.”

Three harbors provide access to Lake Erie in Chautauqua County: Barcelona Harbor, Cattaraugus Creek Harbor and Dunkirk Harbor. Cattaraugus Creek Harbor has not been dredged since 1983, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Borrello said, “It’s a recreational channel and that’s the part we have to focus on.”

In other matters, Hanover’s Budget Officer Elmar Kiefer said, “For a few years, we’ve tried to stay under the (two percent) tax cap. We’ve stuck to that and try to stick to that rule.”

Since 2011, New York state has mandated that the growth in the property tax levy be capped at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

“This year, the inflation rate is 1.66 percent,” Kiefer said. “When you get your tax bill, you’ll be very happy.”

The board set a public hearing for Oct. 15 at 7:35 p.m. at the Hanover Town Hall in order to discuss the tax cap law.

In Kiefer’s report, he also said the town must now pay for an outside, third party audit in order to keep interest rates low for borrowing and bond sales.

“We really don’t have any choice. If we don’t do it, our rates could double,” he said. “We need to be sure our numbers are accurate.”

On a final note, Town Clerk Janine Salzman said she has received and placed on file the 2014 tentative budget.

Borrello also stated that the public is welcome to attend the site visit by Reed and Burcham in Sunset Bay on Oct. 7.