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April 9, 2022 - 12:36pm

Legislature to vote on hiring Albany-based lobbyist to help in the search for Phase 3 water funding

Genesee County is turning to a familiar face, so to speak, to help in its quest to attract outside funding for Phase 3 of the Countywide Water Program.

At its meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Courthouse, the county legislature will consider a resolution to contract with Sheridan Hohman & Associates of Albany to provide strategic counsel and governmental relation assistance at the state level for the remainder of the year at a cost of $2,000 per month.

County Manager Matt Landers said the expenses, totaling $18,000, will be covered by the Water Fund.

“We believe the assistance of a lobbyist that will focus on relationships with the state (agencies and leaders) will be helpful,” Landers said. “This firm has worked with us in the past through NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties).”

Landers and County Engineer Tim Hens, at a Feb. 23 meeting with Congressman Chris Jacobs, reported that it will cost around $85 million for Phase 3, which would bring another six million gallons of water per day into the county and eliminate the need for the aging City of Batavia water plant.

The county already has spent $20 million for Phase 1 and $23 million for Phase 2. The price tag of a fourth phase, down the road, is estimated at $50 to $60 million.

At that time, Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein asked Jacobs and his staff to explore federal funding options, noting, “We’re at a point now where we can’t manage it on our own.”

In a related development, the legislature also will consider rescinding an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Alexander regarding improvements of that community’s Water District No. 6.

Apparently, Hens and County Compliance Officer Pamela LaGrou agree that changes need to be made in the pact that calls upon the county to use part of the American Rescue Plan Act funding it has received in order to comply with ARPA regulations.

Hens said a new resolution will be drafted and presented to the Public Service Committee on April 18. The county will save $3.3 million in interest on this Phase 3 project by utilizing ARPA money.

The project focuses on increasing storage capacity, with construction starting next spring, Hens added.

Other resolutions of note on Wednesday’s legislative agenda:

  • Per an unfunded mandate from New York State Board of Elections, the purchase of a $40,000 ballot scanner to tabulate scannable absentee ballots and merge those results with early voting and election day results, as well as spending $2,500 for staff training. Deputy Republican Commissioner Melissa Gaebler said the equipment has to be operational by the June primary.
  • A request from the Rotary Club of Batavia to conduct its Fly-In Breakfast at June 19 at the Genesee County Airport on Saile Drive. The service organization would be using the facility from June 17-21 for preparation and clean-up.
  • A public hearing for 5:30 p.m. April 27 at the Old Courthouse on the county’s submission of a Community Development Block Grant application from the state Office of Community Renewal to assist La Fermiere Inc. in the development of a yogurt and dessert production facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

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