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JAN 27 - FEB 03, 2015

Lewiston: As Koosterman Leaves, Will Brochey Seek Reelection?

By Frank Parlato

January 27, 2015

Dennis Brochey said he will run this fall - but won’t say for what office.

Lewiston, NY - Paul Koosterman, Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey's handpicked finance director, is leaving his post to take a job in the private sector - at Realty USA.

"I hate to see him go," Brochey said of Koosterman, a Lewiston resident, a CPA and Niagara University graduate, who gave notice he intends to leave his town position effective Jan. 31.

Koosterman receives an annual salary of $60,000 without benefits.

The job of finance director is an appointment made by the supervisor of the town.

Before leaving on vacation to Aruba, Koosterman told several people he was glad to leave the public sector which, he said, is often politically charged and work in the private sector.

(The Reporter defines these two: The public sector is where a man or woman gets paid money that was taken by force (taxes) from other people. The private sector is where a man or woman gets paid money that was offered voluntarily for goods and services.)

Meantime Brochey is seeking a replacement for Koosterman.

"I have 14 application on my desk," Brochey told the Reporter and that he had, among applicants, a few CPAs, but was not convinced the position requires a CPA.

Brochey also spoke of the town's financial challenges.

For the last several years, predating Brochey's administration which began in 2014, the town has been spending more than it takes in. It has avoided a town tax primarily based on Lewiston business, Modern Disposal's tipping fees and by draining the reserves or savings account of the town - which has now dwindled to about $2 million.

"You never want to continue to take money out of the bank to survive," said Brochey, who ran an automotive business. "As a small businessman, I always had money in the bank."

Brochey suggested the deficit may rise as high as $700,000 next year if steps are not taken to curb costs or increase revenues.

Brochey has been an advocate for cutting costs - particularly the nearly $200,000 a year in cash and services the town donated to Artpark & Company, a not for profit corporation that has a management contract with the state of New York to stage events at the Art Park State Park.

Last year, the Town of Lewiston gave Artpark $100,000 in cash, paid for police services (estimated to be $74,500 per year) and traffic signage (estimated to be $13,500).

Paul Koosterman is happily headed to the private sector.


Brochey opposed townspeople subsidizing Artpark which books musical acts and sells tickets at (taxpayer subsidized) low prices. If ticket prices were raised marginally, Artpark would not need a subsidy from the town.

To make the point clearer, last season, Artpark staged a Ringo Starr concert on June 24. Thousands were unable to attend because with only 12,000 tickets to sell at $17 the Starr concert sold out within days.

Throughout the rest of Starr's North American tour, the former Beatle commanded ticket prices starting at $40 and going up to more than $200. Everywhere else, Starr's concerts were not taxpayer subsidized and it may be that the people of Lewiston - in the entire world- were the only ones ever to subsidize a former Beatle's concert.

Still, if everyone who bought a Starr ticket at Artpark had paid $10 more - or $27 - the Starr tickets would still have been lower than anywhere else, but Artpark would have realized an additional $120,000 in revenue, more than half of its subsidy from Lewiston in one concert alone.

Of course some argue that the charm of Artpark is its socialist ideal that taxpayer's should subsidize entertainment for people who can't afford concerts such as Ringo Starr's.

The Reporter's position is that people who can't afford $27 for a Ringo Starr concert needn't go. Concert goers should not expect working people and senior citizens to be taxed to pay for their concerts. After all, a Starr concert is not a necessity. It is obscene on the part of Artpark to expect taxpayers to be taxed (especially in light of Lewiston's deficit which may spark a town tax which would raise taxes for every homeowner) so that people who can't afford $27 for a Ringo concert, but can afford $17 for a Ringo concert, can go to the concert.

If you can't afford a Starr concert- then the Reporter has a suggestion - work harder and put away that extra $10 and when Starr comes back to town- go see him for $27.

Meantime Brochey has employed other methods to cut costs. He pared down the finance department. Michael A. Johnson, the budget director of the administration of former supervisor Steven Reiter retired in August. He was not replaced. Part-time accountant Katelyn Allan moved over to fill an opening in the police department. She was not replaced. Brochey cut costs in the finance department from $110,000 during the Reiter administration to Koosterman's $60,000.

It might be cut more.

"I can't speak in those terms yet," said Brochey about the salary to be offered to the next finance director. "I talked to a couple of people. One sounds very promising. I said, 'what are you looking for' and she offered to work for a lesser amount. I have to consider also if going forward this is really a full time or a part time job. I do have one applicant looking for a part time position. We could save a bundle of money. I want to make sure we have enough of what we need but not more than what we need." said Brochey.

Town Board Member William Conrad told the Reporter that while the supervisor makes the selection of the finance director it is up to the board - presently made up of three Republicans, one Independence Party member and Democrat Brochey - what salary the new finance director will be paid.

Conrad said qualifications need to be looked at. "Certainly we would not need to pay someone who is not a CPA as much as someone who is," Conrad said.

Meanwhile the town supervisor is in the second year of his two year term.

Is he running for reelection?

Brochey said he has not decided.

He said he plans to run for some elected office this fall, but it may not be for supervisor.

Brochey declined to say what other office he is considering.

"I am probably 80-90 percent (certain) about what my decision is. I will probably know more in May or June," Brochey said.

There are several positions Brochey can run for if he so chooses.

Two council seats will be open this year, presently held by Ron Winkley and William Conrad - both Republicans.

Winkley said last week he is not going to run for reelection. After some 35 years, with the police - he was a former chief - and council -he said it is time to retire from public office.

Conrad, who ran last year in a special election for the balance of resigning Ernie Palmer's council term, will have to run again for his own four year term if he wants to remain as councilman.

Also up for election are highway superintendent, and town clerk.

Since these are held by Republicans, Brochey can opt to run for any of these without stepping on party toes.


Ron Winkley says he is not running for reelection.






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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina