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October 28, 2013

Pendleton newcomer sets sights on top town post

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PENDLETON — Do town residents like the status quo or do they think it’s time for a change?

The town supervisor’s race race pits Democrat James A. Riester, who is completing his fifth two-year term, and Republican Dominic Saraceno, a Buffalo lawyer who has lived in the town for six months.

Riester believes things are going pretty well in the town of about 6,500.

Saraceno’s campaign signs read, “It’s time for a change.”

Riester claims his administration cut the town property tax levy from $400,000 to $208,000 over 10 years.

Saraceno responds, “He keeps making those claims but I haven’t seen any documents. Where’s the documentation?”

Riester answers in return, “Look at the tax levy for 2004 and 2013. It’s black and white, pretty straight forward. Even a lawyer could see that’s right.”

Saraceno claims to have visited about 600 residents and learned they want change. Residents have not seen their costs go down, he said, because reductions in the town tax load have been offset by raised user fees.

”Taxes are always an issue,” Riester said. “When I took over, we had the highest tax amount, now we’re the lowest of towns paying tax.”

The town property tax levy was trimmed over time, according to Riester.

”We chopped the little stuff and the big stuff takes care of itself,” he said. “Streets are still getting plowed and garbage is still picked up. The fire department answers emergency calls.”

There is one less employee in the water and sewer department. Water operations were modernized with institution of automated meter reading about five years ago, Riester said. The town’s sewer system is being modernized over time. It has about 800 residential “grinder” pumps, which grind waste and pump it to a central system for treatment, and those are being replaced using a combination of federal grant money and sewer capital reserve funds.

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