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July 15, 2020 - 5:20pm

Legislature's Ways & Means approves $1.1 million in payments to towns and villages

Update: 7:45 p.m. with comments from Rochelle Stein, County Legislature chair

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee this afternoon approved $1.1 million in voluntary distributions to the county’s towns and villages.

The measure will now go to the full legislature for final approval at next Wednesday’s meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

According to the resolution, the payments are being made “in good faith” despite “the unprecedented financial constraints that Genesee County faces in determining a voluntary distribution.”

The amount of the payments, which are based upon taxable assessed valuation, are as follows:

  • Town of Alabama, $43,508.30;
  • Town of Alexander, $44,939.40;
  • Town of Batavia, $188,098.90;
  • Town of Bergen, $54,447.80;
  • Town of Bethany, $45,145.10;
  • Town of Byron, $52,228.00;
  • Town of Darien, $108,829.60;
  • Town of Elba, $40,630.70;
  • Town of Le Roy, $90,932.60;
  • Town of Oakfield, $33,621.50;
  • Town of Pavilion, $60,039.10;
  • Town of Pembroke, $110,027.50;
  • Town of Stafford, $69,514.50;
  • Village of Alexander, $8,102.60;
  • Village of Bergen, $20,825.20;
  • Village of Corfu, $14,765.30;
  • Village of Elba, $11,825.00;
  • Village of Le Roy, $79,856.70;
  • Village of Oakfield, $22,662.20.

"This proves that we are being true to our commitment that there is an intention to share when we gain information," Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said. "We said that there are four things that we have to understand before we can send out any distribution, and we learned one of them -- sales tax and other revenue that has or hasn't been adjusted by the state. That is so important."

Stein said the total of $1.1 million is "a step in the right direction," especially in light of the fact that state aid for the county's mental health services, highway improvement fund and video lottery terminal revenue each were cut by 20 percent.

"We've asked the town and village leaders every Saturday to stick with us and have patience," she said. "We can make a better decision when we have facts. We are holding up to our word and we are doing what we can, when we can."

Stein, in late March, advised town and village leaders that the county couldn't abide by the current distributuion schedule due to COVID-19 and the state being "on pause," stating at the time that "the county would not be able to write checks that we could not cash.”

Action by the legislature to cancel distribution agreements from 2018 and 2019 caused quite a stir among leaders of the municipalities that also were facing serious budget problems.

Assistant County Manager L. Matthew Landers said the distribution is "an amount that the legislature feels is safe for the county to make and prudent for the county to make at this point in time, considering there are still a lot of unknowns."

Landers mentioned the uncertainty surrounding the four measurement points that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put in place to possibly cut state aid, although two of them – April 30 and June 30 – have come and gone.

He said the board has continues to wait and see if another federal stimulus package will be passed, which would factor in concerning the amount and/or frequency of future distributions. 

Landers to Replace Gsell as County Manager

In other action, the committee recommended the appointment of Landers to replace Jay Gsell as the county manager, effective Aug. 15 – the day after Gsell’s scheduled retirement date following 27 years of service.

Landers, an Elba Central School graduate, has been employed by the county for 16 years, serving as Deputy Treasurer for 10 years before taking his current position.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and master’s degree in Public Administration from Brockport State College.

A longtime Kiwanis Club member, Landers, 43, and his wife, Melissa, reside in Batavia with their two children, Kaitlyn, 14, and Benjamin, 10. He is active as a girls' softball coach and league official.

His base salary is set at $120,000, plus longevity.

The full legislature also will vote on this resolution next Wednesday.

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