SALAMANCA — No stranger to city hall and the mayor’s office, Ronald Ball is hoping to pick up where he left off four years ago with another term as the city’s mayor.
“Four years ago when I was mayor the first time, we had done some projects on Main Street,” he said in a recent conversation with the Press. “I know they started doing some things on Main Street to help revitalize it. I had taken an interest in that.”
Ball is backed by the Republican party and challenges Democratic candidate and Ward 4 alderwoman Sandy Magiera.
A lifelong Salamanca resident, Ball previously served as Salamanca’s Ward 1 alderman from 2010-2014 and served a term as mayor in 2015-16. With several projects that were begun under his administration still ongoing, Ball said he’d like to see them through.
Financially, Ball said the city had an $11 million surplus when he left office in 2016, an amount that has decreased since the casino compact issue. He said he would actively seek help from the state and get a plan in place to make the city prosper.
“These would be hard decisions, and if I have to go to Albany every week to get an end result, that’s going to be one of my main priorities,” he said.
Ball said he would like to see residents given a chance to pay back their taxes before the city forecloses on properties. Once a home is foreclosed on, he’d like to see a plan to revitalize the property and then resell it at a fair market value, or a purchaser could make installment payments on a home to help fix up the city.
Development of the State Park Avenue property would also be vital to bringing business and growth to the area, and Ball said he’d like to see a joint-venture project with the Seneca Nation to put something there to benefit both entities.
“And there needs to be an access road from the casino, not up State Park Avenue,” he added. “One thing I always wanted is an outlet mall. Given where we’re at, everyone goes to Erie or Buffalo to go shopping. I think it would attract people and be beneficial to everybody.”
Ball said the relationship between the Nation and city has been decent and they’ve worked well on projects together recently, noting the Pennsy Trail project that first began when he was mayor.
“If we work together, there would be other things we can do to help the city,” he added. “Vets Park is another big thing, and I think we could work with the school to attract tourism into the city.”
In city hall, Ball said he has a good working relationship with several department heads and everyone needs to work together. He said he’d like to look at implementing a head tax for people who work in the city but live outside it, something Ball said some Pennsylvania cities do and could help with offsetting the low taxbase.
“In the financial state we’re in, I think we need to do a restructure to our department head salaries. The city can’t continue to pay the wage scale we’re at,” he said. “I think we could do it through arbitration as people retire. That would be one way to work around it.”
During his campaign, Ball said he’s talked with former mayor Jeff Pond and Pond has been a great friend helping him when needing it.
Ball said he’d like to see the things that started under his previous administration continue, such as the playground renovations, and to keep up with the street and sidewalk repairs. He said he wants the police and fire departments vehicles updated and revitalization in the IDA to bring in more grants.
“When I was mayor, we got close to one million dollars,” he said. “We were able to do the senior center roof, the Nies Block and the library.”
If elected, Ball said he wants to work towards an overall goal: “Let’s make Salamanca a day trip.” With the city’s proximity to Ellicottville and Allegany State Park, he said there is an opportunity to attract more visitors here.
One idea to do that is to work with local artists to paint murals around the city, similar to trends in bigger cities like Buffalo. He said there are large murals on the sides of buildings there that people go to see and take their pictures in front of, and that could happen in Salamanca, too.
“I think Salamanca could be an artistic hub. You have the mall and you have all these brick buildings,” he said. “It gets people to come into the city and visit, and I think that could be a selling point.”