Yates County leaders and organizations in the Seneca and Keuka Lake watersheds are taking action to ensure clean water to area residents.

The Yates County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution at their June 11 meeting supporting an application for a grant to help pay for a consultant to conduct a county-wide water infrastructure study.  The proposed cost for such a study is not to exceed $4,500, and Yates County will fund half the cost with other participating municipalities contributing the other 50 percent.

So far, participating municipalities are Penn Yan, Jerusalem, Milo, Dundee, and Starkey with the possible involvement of Torrey and Dresden. Portions of Jerusalem, Milo, Benton, Dresden, Torrey and the Steuben County Town of Pulteney’s water supply comes from Keuka Lake through the Penn Yan Village Water Plant. Milo also operates a water system in Himrod. Dundee’s village water supply is from wells, and a portion of Benton receives water from the Town of Geneva in Ontario County. 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Town of Torrey councilman Grant Downs reported that the executive committees of a group of organizations including the Seneca Lake Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, Keuka Lake Association, and Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative will apply for a grant to establish a Nine-Element Watershed Plan for the Keuka and Seneca Lake watersheds. Since the entire Keuka Lake watershed is included in the Seneca Lake watershed, such a plan could cover both lakes.

Yates County Legislators had been prepared to vote on a resolution to submit a Consolidated Funding Application for a grant for the same plan, but the resolution was withdrawn. The Town of Geneva will be the lead agency for the grant application.

Other business on the legislature’s agenda June 11:

• RECOGNITION: Legislators passed resolutions recognizing Eleanor Parker for her more than 50 years of volunteer service to the Yates County Community, the Penn Yan Boys Varsity Lacrosse team for competing in the New York State Class D Championship game, and County Administrator Robert Lawton, who is leaving Yates County to take a city manager position in California. District II Legislator Timothy Dennis, who was chairman when the county hired Lawton, thanked him for his contributions to the county, noting the establishment of the legislature’s value statements. Lawton praised the county employees, department heads and legislators, saying, “I have never worked with a better-informed, better engaged legislature.” He also said, “There isn’t a single department head who wouldn’t be a star in any other jurisdiction.”

• HIRING: Legislators approved hiring a Deputy Sheriff, with Elden Morrison and Terry Button voting no, at an hourly salary of $22.95. This individual will fill a vacancy created by a resignation. The legislators unanimously approved the creation and filling of a temporary typist position in the Sheriff’s Office due to a family medical leave of absence. They also unanimously agreed to create and fill a full time correction officer/court security position. Funding for the position will come from state office of Court Administration.

• ADMINISTRATOR: The legislature also unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing Chairman Douglas Paddock to have the powers and duties of the administrator while the position is vacant. The legislature has established a County Administrator Task Force charged with planning the direction for the county to take after Lawton leaves the post later this month.

• CAPITAL PROJECT
FUND: Legislators unanimously agreed to allocate $1 million of unassigned fund balance to a Building Improvement and Construction Capital Project Fund. They also unanimously agreed to transfer $500,000 of unassigned fund balance to a tax stabilization fund to be used to help offset a potential tax levy increase in the future.

• YATES TRANSIT: Arc of Yates Chief Operating Officer Mary Mansfield presented a  quarterly report about the Yates Transit Service. She said the service has seen a 40 percent increase in ridership after some changes in routes were made.