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November 30, 2020 - 8:26pm

Level funding, addition of an 'out clause' mark 2021 Genesee County contracts with agencies

In a move designed as a safeguard against unforeseen economic calamity, Genesee County is modifying its 2021 funding contracts with outside agencies.

The Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services and Public Service committees today recommended approval of contracts with the Holland Land Office Museum, PathStone Inc., Nioga Library System and Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District – all with new wording that gives the county an out clause.

A similar pact with Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Genesee County was withdrawn, however, to give the agency’s board of directors more time to review the changes.

“The language change is simply putting in a clause that allows for the county to withhold funding in the event of an emergency,” County Manager Matt Landers said. “It is standard language we are putting in all of our contracts.”

Landers said that since the contract for CCE is forwarded “outside of our area to Cornell University, we haven’t allowed for enough time for proper review by CCE’s board.”

“We are just giving them some additional time to review,” he said, adding that the county attorney is working with CCE to make sure the latter has plenty of time to look at the recommended changes. He said he plans to reintroduce a modified resolution in January.

Additionally, the county will be making monthly or quarterly payments instead of one annual payment, Landers said.

“With some of the prior agreements, even (with) a clause to withhold funding, if we gave them all the money up front, it really wouldn’t do any good,” he explained. “So, we’re going through and streamlining so that payments are either going to be monthly or quarterly, and then also having a clause with the standard language that we’re putting in -- a 21-day notification.”

In response to a question from Legislator Marianne Clattenburg about the specifics of a 21-day clause, Landers and County Attorney Kevin Earl said it was inserted into the contracts to give the county flexibility.

“We’re trying to reassure partners that we’re not looking to pull the rug out from under them, but we’re just looking to not be in a position where we are required to continue funding when our funding technically dries up,” Landers said.

Earl added that it gives the outside agencies “time to react” to the withholding of funding.

“We can completely stop all the payments or any part of the payments,” he said, acknowledging that any action would have to be approved by the legislature per a resolution.

Details of the various contracts are as follows:

-- Holland Land Office Museum

The county will enter into agreement with the Holland Purchase Historical Society Inc. for the operation of the museum and programming for 2021 at an annual cost of $33,554 – the same level of funding as the past four years. Payments will be made on a monthly basis.

When asked if the amount of funding was adequate, Landers said the museum, as is the case with the other outside agencies, is “getting by.”

“I’m sure they could do more with more, but they’re making it stretch, and providing an excellent service in the community for the money that we give them,” he said.

-- PathStone Inc.

The 2021 contract with PathStone Corporation of Rochester for housing support and consulting service calls for the county to provide up to $12,150 in funding – an annual amount equal to what was authorized over the past four years.

-- Nioga Library System.

This agreement supports the Nioga Library System with $41,680 for 2021 in quarterly payments. This, too, is the same amount provided by the county in 2020.

The Nioga Library System is comprised of 21 libraries in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, including Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia, Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield, Corfu Public Library, Hollwedel Memorial Library in Pavilion, Byron-Bergen Public Library, and Woodward Memorial Library in Le Roy.

In September, The Batavian reported that Nioga officials anticipated a 25 percent or more cut in funding from New York State in 2021.

-- Soil and Water Conservation District

The county has agreed to support the agency to the tune of $151,891 for 2021, with payments made in regular installments.

One of 58 such districts in the state, the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District provides services and funds projects related to the conservation of soil and water resources, improvement of water quality, preservation of wildlife habitat and management of soil erosion.

-- Cornell Cooperative Extension

For the fifth straight year, the county is offering sponsorship in the amount of $338,548 per a memorandum of agreement with CCE.

The agency, with its office in Batavia, is in the process of hiring a new executive director. Interviews of finalists Jocelyn Sikorski of Batavia and Julianna Frisch of Brockport were scheduled to be conducted earlier today via Zoom videoconferencing.

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