News Column

City waiting for credit card report

May 10, 2014

By Joe Olenick, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, N.Y.



May 10--Lockport city officials are awaiting a written report regarding the investigation into the Youth and Recreation director's use of a city credit card.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said the city has requested a report from Hamburg attorney Brian Doyle, who was hired by the Common Council for the investigation. Doyle met with the Council last month to give a summary of his findings, which generally said Youth and Recreation Director Melissa Junke was given the OK to use the credit card to pay expenses for a golf tournament fundraiser, but certain specific expenses were not authorized.

No criminal activity was found, Doyle reported.

There's no expected timetable for the report, but City Attorney John J. Ottaviano said the city would like it within a week. No bill has been submitted by Doyle, so Lockport hasn't paid him for the investigation yet. Doyle's rate was $200 an hour, but its unknown how long he spent on the investigation.

According to 42 pages of credit card receipts and purchase orders, the card was used to make $9,080.77 in purchases related to the golf tournament, held on June 3 of last year. The receipts and orders were obtained by the Union-Sun & Journal through a Freedom of Information Law request. The expenses included $4,820 in round-trip air fares to bring six people to the event, which was a fundraiser for Junke's department. Junke's attorney George Muscato has said Junke was told to fundraise as a way to compensate for the major cuts in funding the Youth and Recreation department has suffered over the years.

McCaffrey said any decision about reorganizing the department -- or any decision regarding Junke -- will be made after the report is submitted.

In other city business this week:

--The Common Council was informed Wednesday by McCaffrey that milling for nine city streets was completed last week. Those streets were Summit, High, East High, Pine, Gooding, Locust, Willow and Washburn streets, as well as Elmwood and Lincoln avenues.

The city contracted with Villager Construction from Fairport, which at $68,000 was the low bid on a Niagara County contract.

Pothole repairs will continue, McCaffrey said. And the city will soon release a list of streets that will be repaved this year. The list is expected to start with the same streets that were milled, beginning with East High Street. Work has been finished on Gooding Street.

It'll take about one week to work and repave a street, McCaffrey said. But paving will be weather-permitting.

--After speaking with Lockport Cave co-owner Thomas Callahan on Wednesday, Council members seem to be leaning toward selling two buffer strips bordering the Gooding Street headquarters of the Cave underground boat ride to the ride's operator, Hydraulic Race Co.

Callahan said he wants wider buffers to maintain the integrity of the tunnel beneath the building and access to the ruins of the old Holly Manufacturing Co. plant. Callahan said he is willing to pay the appraised price of 11 cents per square foot for 23,412 square feet of vacant land, which works out to $2,575.

Ottaviano said the Council can act after the city Property Management Committee and the Engineering Department review the deal.

--The Council was also told Empire Dismantlement Corp. of Grand Island was the low bidder for the demolition of 31 Elmwood Ave. The company's bid was $21,800.

Action wasn't taken to allow the demolition, the bid was just to let the Council know what it would cost to take down the house, City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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(c)2014 the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, N.Y.)

Visit the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, N.Y.) at lockportjournal.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (NY)


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