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January 27, 2021 - 6:55pm

Landers: NYS reportedly supporting Genesee County's idea to loosen restrictions on investments

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he finds some good and some bad with the proposed New York State fiscal year 2022 budget with the “good” connected to a suggestion made by Genesee County officials to loosen the restrictions on municipal investments.

“A suggestion that actually came from Genesee County was the ability to invest our money a little more, I don’t want to say aggressively, (but) the restrictions that governments – counties and municipalities – in New York State had was one of the most restrictive in the nation,” said Landers, reporting to the Genesee County Legislature this afternoon during its meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Landers said if Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately accepts the suggestion to give local governments more flexibility in their investments, it could lead to a six-figure increase on Genesee County’s bottom line.

“I don’t have an exact figure, you’d have to talk to Treasurer Scott German about that, but I do know that we budgeted $150,000 in 2021 and that was just in the general fund,” Landers said, noting that investments are volatile depending upon interest rates.

Last summer, Landers and German looked into the county’s investment strategies – it has a contract with the three+one firm out of Pittsford – and found out that New York’s investment regulations were the most restrictive in the nation.

“I passed that along to NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) and they passed it along to the (NYS) Division of Budget, and lo and behold, it came out as one of the governor’s suggestions in his budget to loosen up the restrictions,” Landers said. “So, there’s evidence that ideas coming out of Genesee County can actually have an impact on the state.”

Landers said news of the governor’s support in the investment arena puts the county in prime position to generate additional revenues.

“I’m sure Scott will be pleased to put three+one to work if we get this additional relief in how we can do investments,” he said.

Sticking with the “good” part of the state budget, Landers said the county now is projecting a 5-percent reduction in state aid – down from the 20 percent it put in its 2021 budget.

“This is assuming that the state gets $6 billion in stimulus money from the federal government,” he said. “If the state gets nothing, then we would be looking at the 20 percent (decrease).”

Landers also mentioned the state’s reconfiguration of its Aid and Incentives for Municipalities program – action that will affect counties that have towns and villages receiving AIM funds.

“We’re still trying to figure out how the AIM impact will be – the state is shifting – taking some of the sales tax proceeds from counties and making towns and villages whole through AIM,” he said. “More than half the counties are going to benefit from this shift, but some counties are going to be hurt depending on the makeup within their county of municipalities that are receiving AIM.”

The county manager also reported that the allocation of the county’s extra 1 percent in sales tax no longer will need state approval, but on the “bad” side, said the county is looking at the possibility of losing $160,000 in Video Lottery Terminal revenue generated by patrons at Batavia Downs Gaming.

In legislative action, the board implemented a Rule 19 resolution to ratify prior measures that grant Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein emergency powers as they pertain to financially protecting non-county workers – both volunteer and professional -- at COVID-19 testing clinics.

The resolution gives Stein authority in two circumstances beyond a Jan. 14 resolution that granted emergency powers for the chair to execute necessary COVID-19 documents – an agreement for services for COVID-19 volunteers and an agreement for paid services for COVID-19.

On another front, the legislature set a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. on April 28 at the Genesee County Old Courthouse as part of the mandated eight-year review of Agricultural District No. 4.

The district was created in December 1980 and, under Article 25AA of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 303-a, it must be reviewed eight years after the date of creation and every eight years thereafter. Property in Agricultural District No. 4 is located in the towns of Byron, Bergen, Elba, Stafford and Le Roy.

In other action, the legislature passed the following resolutions:

  • A construction contract with Union Concrete and Construction Corp, West Seneca, in the amount of $1,767,387 to replace bridges on Meadville Road over Canal Feeder in the Town of Alabama, Sharrick Road over Murder Creek in the Town of Darien, and Tower Hill Road over Spring Creek in the Town of Byron.

The resolution also called for a consultant agreement with CHA Consulting Inc., of Buffalo, for the three projects for an amount not to exceed $340,000.

Union Concrete and Construction Corp. submitted a bid that was around $400,000 less than the engineer’s estimate of construction costs. Ninety-five percent of the capital project will be paid by federal aid, with a 5 percent local match taken from the 1 percent sales tax fund.

  • A consultant agreement with C&S Companies, Rochester, for an amount not to exceed $109,000 in connection with the replacement of the Upton Road over Bowen Creek bridge in the Town of Batavia.

Work, which will be covered by federal aid at the 95 percent level, is expected to start immediately.

  • Payment of $4,535 in costs related to dental surgery for K9 Rayzor, with fund coming from the K-9 Donations Reserve Account (gifts and donations that were made to the K-9 program).

Expenses consisted of $2,317 for the surgery plus costs for his handler’s lodging, vehicle fuel and food to transport Rayzor to the hospital where the surgery was performed, as well as a recovery bed for the dog.

  • A contract extension through Dec. 31 with the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services, Albany, in the amount of $170,672.

This money funds the county’s full-time assistant public defender, part-time assistant public defender, investigator and paralegal’s salary and fringe benefits as well as a parity stipend for an assistant public defender, cell phone service for one, landline telephone service for two, the investigator’s mileage and investigation online service software.

  • Contracts with SkyMark Refuelers LLC, Kansas City, Kan., in the amount of $324,590 for ground service equipment, broken down as follows: $189,600 for a Jet-A refueler (diesel option) and $134,990 for an AvGas refueler (diesel option).

The cost for these contracts is partially covered by a state grant.

  • A change order to a contract with Suburban Electric, Albion, in the amount of $65,302 in connection with work being done at pump stations in Churchville and Mumford to expand water supply capacity under Phase 2 of the Countywide Water Supply Program.

The change order calls for the installation of a different Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) within the Motor Control Center (MCC); eliminating the power management system; modifying the MCC; increasing the height of the telemetry tower from 50 to 70 feet, adding an additional telemetry tower at the Riga Pump Station and adding a backup power system for the MCC.      

This is the second change order on this contract and brings the total contract cost to $832,984.50. The original award of the contract was for $759,000.

  • Allocation of up to $300,000 to support the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce for publicity and tourism services connected to the “I Love New York” program through Dec. 31.

Funds from the county’s 2021 hotel and motel tax receipts (bed tax) will be used, with the stipulation that the county will only fund tourism activity to the extent actual revenues from bed tax are realized, not to exceed the fiscal year appropriation of $300,000.

  • The creation of two temporary full-time clerk-typist positions, effective from Jan. 25 until July 23. The clerk typist salary and fringe ($38,707) are allocated in the 2021 Health Department budget.

The position’s salary is partially funded by state aid/performance funds. The cost to the county will be approximately $22,158.

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