Headlines for Thursday, November 17, 2022

Unions representing Ithaca city workers and City Attorney Ari Levine continue to trade blows. According to the Ithaca Voice, a new letter from union leaders representing city police, firefighters, and administrative workers claimed the city has an “anti-worker agenda,” and pointed to the many vacancies in city positions. The letter follows a tumultuous meeting last week during which Levine said he supported city workers airing well-founded complaints but decried what he called “rumor-fueled character assassination” and a “mob on the attack.” He took particular aim at Common Council for condemning the city’s contract negotiation team which he leads. In its 2023 budget, the city passed a 10% tax levy increase, Levine suggested contract negotiations helped keep the increase from being even higher. 

A new draft of Caroline’s proposed zoning laws is expected soon, and according to Jean McPheeters, chair of the town’s Zoning Commission, it’s changed substantially since the last version was released in May. According to the Ithaca Voice the debate in Caroline has marked deep divides in the community.  McPheeters has been the target of baseless accusations of corruption, and even a death threat. Nonetheless, she says “I’m trusting on the better nature of people that they will actually read this and determine for themselves what they think about it.” Organizers with Caroline for Responsible Zoning say the community has been lucky so far but fear the effect development like strip malls might have on their quality of life. John Morse with Caroline Residents Against Zoning told the Voice zoning is “selfish” and that, “it’s just somebody’s opinion on what should be on a piece of property.”

Several area municipalities will receive block grant funding for housing and municipal water projects. According to Finger Lakes Daily News, Schuyler County will use funds to rehabilitate the Clute Park Pump Station. The town of Danby will supply assistance to low and moderate income households for home repairs. And Steuben County will help low-income residents replace septic tanks and water lines. The federal funds were secured by NY’s congressional delegation as part of COVID relief funding. Governor Hochul said “this funding will lay the groundwork for stronger, more resilient neighborhoods across New York.”

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