The Town of Hamburg is now officially on record as being opposed to the NY SAFE Act and on Monday night (June 10) passed a resolution by a 3-0 vote asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repeal it.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard was at the meeting to outline his reasoning as to why he believes the law is a mistake.
“It’s no secret that I’m opposed to this law,” Howard said.
The Sheriff said that although he does not personally agree with the assertion that the 2nd Amendment in the U.S. Constitution is outdated, that a decision like this should not come from state government.
“It should be addressed by constitutional amendment,” Howard said.
One of Howard’s concerns is he believes there is no example in history where a change in regards to the registration of firearms is not followed by confiscation.
“It has not been made clear... nobody from upstate New York was in involved in writing this law,” Howard said.
What he believes is that the state should look at the laws to see about creating stiffer penalties for those who commit crimes with guns, and not punish law abiding citizens who own a gun.
Howard told the audience his department took a look in March at what was then the most recent 10 people arrested for gun-related offenses. He said nine of them were age 23 or younger, and six had violent felony convictions already.
What it comes down to is not the guns themselves, but the people who own them.
“The law is going to impact law abiding citizens,” Howard said.
Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters said the act was a “knee-jerk reaction” by the governor.
He does not feel it is right to punish people who have been lawfully using a gun or clip for many years. Walters echoed Howard’s sentiments in that there should be harsher penalties for those who break the law.
According to Walters, several people have asked him when the Town of Hamburg was going to go on record as being against the act. As President of the Erie County Association of Governments. he said they supported seeking a repeal of the act several months ago.
“We as a body... we passed a resolution of this body last February asking for a repeal of the law,” Walters said, adding that only two supervisors voted against the resolution.
“The new laws make guns unlawful because of what they look like, not what they do,” Howard said.
Councilman Joseph Collins agreed with Walters and Howard that this act should be repealed. He believes before any changes are made to the law, the voices of New York State residents should be heard. “Everyone should have a voice and go through the proper proceedings,” Collins said. noting he grew up using guns properly.
“It was respectable and the way to grow up,” Collins said.
Howard said what is difficult for his department is that changes to not only the gun laws, but mental health laws, has created an atmosphere of distrust toward law enforcement.
According to Howard, with the mental health law changes, if a person barricaded themselves inside of a home, officers would not be able to access the mental health records in an attempt to help them.
“The public doesn’t trust us anymore,” Howard said.
In other board news:
• Presentations were given by a pair of companies in an attempt to reduce energy costs for the town.
John Ludtka, president of New Wave Energy Corporation, said he was asked by Walters to come in and make a presentation before the board.
“We started working with Steve a few months ago,” Ludtka said.
He told the board that in reviewing the town’s energy statements with NYSEG and National Fuel, he found that the town is still “buying directly from both of the utlilities.”
Ludtka told the board he founds that about nine out of 10 municipalities are working with a third party in order to buy or generate gas directly to reduce costs.
He said currently the town is paying tariff charges. “It’s not really based off index,” Ludtka said.
New Wave will get an actual index price, which Ludtka said would knock off a couple of charges and provide a savings to the town.
“We’re not going to change anything with the utilities,” he said.
Instead, they would distribute gas or electric to the line without the extra charges.
“It’s a seamless transition,” Ludtka said, noting that this would create a savings of about 15 percent in utility costs to the town, which would come to about $48,000 a year.
He suggested to the board that if they move forward, they should have a variable rate agreement, which would change month-to-month, but offer a guaranteed savings.
Ludtka also suggested that the town consider the changes sooner than later.
“Your usage is going to spike in the summertime,” he said.
Walters asked what their retention rate with other towns is.
“I don’t believe we’ve had any municipalities leave us yet,” Ludtka said, adding that the overall commercial and business retention rate is about 90 percent.
Walters told Ludtka that he agreed that the board should act soon.
Kevin Clough, energy consultant for EnergyMark, LLC, gave the board a brief synopsis of where energy comes from.
“Most of your gas that cooks your meals comes from New Orleans,” Clough said, with Eden based Tennessee Pipeline providing gas for a lot of the northeast.
He said there are peeks and valleys when it comes to energy.
“Usually winter is the worst time of the year,” Clough said, noting that it comes down to one thing. “Supply and demand. It’s not rocket science.”
In the summer, air conditioning causes electric bills to go up and Clough said in his business, October proves to be the “perfect storm.”
He said his company goes out in May and November, when it is slower, and fills up its gas supply. The prices have been guided by the stock market, which uses NYMEX to figure its base price.
Clough said prices have dropped considerably in recent years and agreed with Ludtka that variable pricing is the way to go.
“The only way to make gas cheaper is to buy it when it’s cheaper,” Clough said.
EnergyMark,LLC has been working with the Village of Hamburg for 10 years, and Clough said the way to become successful, is to “become your own escrow.”
He said when it comes to electric, there is not much that can be done.
“Electric doesn’t (really) exist,” he said. “There is such thing as storage for gas.”
He said there is a minimum savings of 2.9 percent by switching to EnergyMark to provide gas. And that figure could go as high as 4 percent.
“It’s known as shared savings,” Clough said. He pointed out that the Villages of Hamburg and Sloan get their gas from the same pool, which creates a savings.
“They made themselves there own company,” Clough said. “All of our gas is coming from Pennsylvania.”
Walters asked him as well about retention rate, and he said they supply every SUNY campus and prison in New York State.
He said municipalities bid out every few years but remain with them.
No decision was made at the June 10 meeting.
The Hamburg Town Board will hold its next meeting beginning with a work session at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 24. The board will have a regular meeting at 7 p.m.