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July 23, 2020 - 10:26am

Former legislator Sackett speaks out about Bethany water pact, GCC raises and school resource officer contracts

The agenda for Wednesday’s Genesee County Legislature meeting at the Old County Courthouse featured 34 resolutions, with three of them catching the eye of former legislator John Sackett Jr. of Byron.

Addressing the board during the public comments portion of the meeting, Sackett provided brief commentary on a water district agreement with the Town of Bethany, the county’s annual financial support of Genesee Community College, and contracts with six schools for school resource officers.

Legislators approved an inter-municipal pact with the Town of Bethany that calls for the county to reimburse the town in the amount of $152,835 for 38 years.

The annual reimbursement, according to the resolution, represents the amortized cost of the $4.5 million in improvements being made by Town of Bethany Water District No. 5, enhancements that will benefit the county.

Sackett questioned this plan, and asked why the county didn't help "Byron Town Board members, past and present, who did their proprietary work on taxpayer-supported water projects?"

Prior to that, he said that during his tenure as a Genesee County legislator (1992-2001), he came up with a list of eight private companies that might be able to provide water to residents.

“No response, I’ll say it again, no response from the Genesee County water board,” he said. “What does that tell you? They were all appointed.”

Legislators voted to contribute $2,636,374 to Genesee Community College for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The college’s total budget is $38.1 million.

Sackett urged lawmakers to hold the line on employee raises, stating that the college “strokes its board members, using Downstate figures to justify raises.”

As previously reported on The Batavian, GCC leadership has instituted many cost-cutting measures to balance its budget, including a pay freeze approved by both collective bargaining units on the campus.

On the subject of school resource officers, Sackett called the contracts, which range from $85,000 to $102,000 for 10-12 months, a “waste of dollars, whoever pays.”

“If you really believe in safety in education, educate the school teachers in these school districts in the use of handguns – hidden with monthly training,” he said. “It would cost less and be much more effective.”

Genesee County has SRO agreements with Alexander, Pembroke, Oakfield-Alabama, Byron-Bergen, Pavilion and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. The districts pay for the services of a sheriff’s deputy, with hourly rate, fringe benefits and insurance as the covered expenses.

Sackett, who just turned 92, served on the Byron Town Board for 20 years, including several years as supervisor.

In other action, legislators approved:

-- Acceptance of a $120,000 grant from the state Office of Children and Family Services to support medical services at the county’s Justice for Children Advocacy Center. The contract term runs from Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2022, meaning that the annual award is $60,000.

-- A consultant agreement for $617,000 with Fisher Associates of Rochester to provide preliminary engineering and final design work in connection with the planned 2023 replacement of the South Lyon Street bridge in the City of Batavia. The design work and right-of-way acquisition are expected to take 12 to 18 months.

-- Three resolutions for work at the Genesee County Airport – one to accept a Federal Aviation Administration grant of $172,335 for the demolition of an existing T-hangar, one to contract with C&S Engineers of Syracuse for construction observation and administration of the T-hangar demolition at a cost not to exceed $29,000, and one to contract with Telco Construction of Buffalo (general contractor) and Upstate Companies of Mt. Upton (electrical) to build a new T-hangar.

The Telco contract is not to exceed $745,700 and the Upstate contract is not to exceed $103,500. Funding for this project will come from state aid ($626,250) and county money ($218,750).

-- An amendment of the county’s shared services property tax savings plan, changing the date from 2019 to 2020. The plan, which explores ways to collaborate with towns, villages and neighboring counties to reduce costs, will be submitted to the Department of State, Genesee Association of Municipalities, and eight local school districts.

Previously: Jail project with Orleans County, City water upgrade, SROs top the list of Genesee's shared services plan

-- Acceptance of $76,700 from the state Board of Elections’ Cybersecurity Remediation Grant Program to help county election commissioners assess security vulnerabilities and develop an effective risk management strategy. The funding will cover the period of Dec. 21, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2021.

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