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The Batavia City Council Monday, by the narrowest of votes, approved $1,900 to reimburse the Batavia Business Improvement District (BID) for hanging flower baskets downtown.
The 5-4 vote followed a 20 minute debate over whether or not the purchase of flowers was a “fiscally responsible” use of taxpayer funds.

“I promised voters I would be financially responsible with their money,” said Councilman at-large John Deleo, “but flowers don’t rise to that level,”

“It’s not just about making downtown pretty,” countered Ward 4 Councilwoman Patty Pacino, “it is about making downtown attractive to new and existing businesses.”

The BID fronted about $3,900 for the hanging baskets. They later requested, in a letter to council dated April 10, that the city reimburse BID half the cost of the flowers.

The timing of the request, received after the city budget was final, irked Ward 6 Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian. Looking around the council chambers, Christian wondered aloud if BID Director Don Burkel was present, “so we could rip his ass.”

Joining Christian and DeLeo in opposition were Councilman at-large Eugene Jankowski and Ward 5 Councilwoman Kathleen Briggs.

It was revealed on Monday that the city had spent a total of $10,700 during the last fiscal year defending itself against a lawsuit filed by the City Centre Mall Association.
The figure was obtained by Batavia resident John Roach through a Freedom of Information Request. Roche complained that the bills he obtained were not “itemized.”

City Manager Jason Molino countered that Roach only requested a total amount for mall litigation and if an itemized accounting was requested, it could be provided.
The legal services summarized in the 2012-2013 fiscal year were incurred before the city filed a counter suit against the mall association earlier this year.

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