NORWICH — U.S. Rep Marc Molinaro sent two representatives to meet with local residents and officials on Thursday to listen to concerns including but not exclusive to: social security; the U.S. debt ceiling; housing; and continued funding for Greenway bike trails.
Office Field Representative Nicole Leonard, Rep. and case worker Michelle Speach met with City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver, town council members and about eight other constituents that shed light on concerns they felt important for the representatives to take back to Rep. Molinaro.
Community Development Advocate Todd Dreyer said, “We're here for a primarily more political issue but it’s kind of short and just wanted to go on record. Social security; republicans have the perspective that it’s primarily a spending problem and I think the democrats think it’s more of a revenue problem and I side with the democrats. I am a democrat.
“I think the evidence is in changing demographics you can’t deny. We no longer have a population pyramid; we have more of a population cylinder. Few workers are paying forward social security benefits. Part of that has been an actual shift in population,” he added.
He explained that increasing the revenue side of it would be the best first step and that it’s not an investment program; that it is a security program, an insurance program, and that some people are going to benefit more. Those benefiting more would be the working people at the lower end and not so much at the higher end.
Constituent Karol Kucinski requested information on the reformed legislation of a specific bill for social security. His concerns were based on social security payouts not being paid in full to those that have double retirement accounts. He believes people with double retirement accounts can receive full social security.
Kucinski said, “We'd like to see social security reform based on increasing the fica tax, increasing the age (making it longer, since people are living longer), and maybe fiddling with the formula that pays back.”
“The idea is you'll have to do multiple things; as increase the money that goes into it and the age you're eligible should be raised. What you get back depends on what you put it,” he said.
Leonard and Speach took notes and at times asked for clarification.
Dreyer also believes the debt ceiling should be raised without strings. He explained the previous administration was able to increase it on three different occasions and also stated he believes the place for negotiating the budget is during the budget process and that doing it during the debt ceiling is sort of a hostage taking position.
The topic of new sidewalks came into discussion as there is funding for the curb access for the handicap yet the sidewalks are in poor condition and not handicap accessible. The idea was to add this cost to the CAP funds if possible. As it stands now, CAP funds are only for the handicap ramps at the ends of sidewalks.
City of Norwich Community Development Director Erik Scrivener, City of Norwich Youth Bureau Director Anthony Testani and Chenango County Environmental Health Department Technician Matt Gladstone talked about the City of Norwich bike park, bike trails and residential housing.
Gladstone said, “We have a local high school mountain biking team and also kids from surrounding schools can participate on that team. Its been great. I've been working with the greenway for some time now. I want to create a stepping stone so they can learn the skills necessary before they go out on the hills and mountains. I've pitched the idea of the Park to Erik and the County and they loved it so here we are.”
Scrivener said, “One other issue we have in the city is the north area where we're lacking infrastructure up there. One of our focus areas is in residential development in that area, utilities, paving, some are finished but some need to be finished. The waste water side of it is the focus. There is existing infrastructure but undersized for what we need. We have about twenty parcels that are undeveloped that could be pretty beneficial for the city.
He explained the business model is just at the beginning and they have the sight for the park now they’re just looking for funding, that they’re in the pre-application stage.Their hope is for the City of Norwich to become a recreational tourism destination with trails for all skills and riders connecting to downtown and the rest of the city.
Testani disclosed zoning is residential in R1 area and R2 has more flexibility.
Gladstone also shared that airport community date is June 10. He explained that a World War II plane would be on sight and giving rides. Last year they gave 85 rides to youth ages 8 through 17 and there will also be drones and sky diving.
“We have a couple of businesses at the airport and sold about $150,000 worth of fuel. It was a record year for fuel sales. There are 18 full hangers and we're looking for grants to continue growing,” he added.
Residents still wishing to share issues of concern but weren't able to make the mobile office hours; Rep. Molinaro maintains offices in Broome County and Greene County, which are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.