Yates urges state to renew authority

Gwen Chamberlain

If New York State doesn’t take action, Yates County may not be able to help non-profit community organizations like Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital and Keuka College secure financing for construction projects in the future.

Yates County Legislators are asking New York State leaders to reinstate authority to agencies like the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC, formerly Yates Industrial Development Agency) to use their tax exempt bonding authority to finance construction projects for civic facilities.

Introducing the two-page resolution at Monday’s year-end legislature meeting, Finance Committee Chairman Taylor Fitch said, “This is the most important issue we’ll deal with today. It’s very important in helping the hospital and college.”

County Administrator Sarah Purdy explains the state first passed laws allowing the local development agencies to help secure financing packages in 1997, but the authority lapsed in January, 2008 when the state legislature did not renew the amendments.

Fitch says this could be very detrimental to Yates County because the hospital and college are important parts of the local economy as large employers, and proposed new legislation could result in delayed, scaled back or abandoned projects, which will ultimately shift costs to taxpayers either through reduced services or higher construction costs. 

Purdy says the proposed legislation is driven by interests in urban areas with strong unions.

Other business on the legislature’s agenda Monday included:

Tax Rates: The legislature unanimously approved adjustments to the 2009 county tax rates because of a change in figures in the town of Jerusalem. According to the resolution, the only change is a minor reduction in the Branchport Fire District. 

Point of Entry Planning: The legislature appropriated $15,250 in additional funds that will be received by the Department of Social Services (DSS) for a program intended to prevent duplication of services provided to individuals connected to more than one social agency.

State Aid Reduction: The legislature approved reductions in youth programs operated by Children and Family Resources Center, Dundee Area Youth Center and ProAction/Yates Youth because of a $3,291.44 reduction of state funding.