County urges state to send surplus funds to 54A

Loujane Johns

There may be some hope for improvements to State Route 54A sooner than expected, if officials respond to the request of the Yates County Legislature. To put it simply, “If you’re not going to use the funds, we’ll take it.”

A little more formally, the legislature passed a resolution last week urging the redirection of surplus stimulus road funds to Yates County, so that much needed work can be started earlier than scheduled on SR 54A.

The county hopes to tap into a surplus created when bids for the Route 15 road project in Lindley, Steuben County, came in well under what was anticipated.

According to the resolution, Sen. George Winner, Jr. and Assemblyman James Bacalles have asked for these funds to be redirected to expedite the timetable.  Reached by phone on Oct. 14, Winner stated that he is advocating that $9.5 million of the $15.5 million surplus be diverted to the 54A project. 

“The DOT has the plans completed and is just waiting for the word to start. I believe the project has the support of NYSDOT Regional Director Peter White,” said Winner.

The final approval will come from Gov. David Paterson, Winner says.

The section of the road, which is in the Town of Jerusalem between the Village of Penn Yan and Branchport, has been subject to complaints for several years.  The town has been asking for major repair work and has only gotten a little “band aid treatment.” The State DOT has the 54A project far down its “to do” list. The last communication received by Jerusalem calls for some work in 2010 with completion in 2011.

All members voted in favor with Legislators Nancy Taylor, Steve Webster and Bob Nielsen absent.

Other business at the Oct. 13 session included:

• PEOPLE ‘S CONVENTION: A resolution in favor of “The People’s Convention to Reform New York,” was unanimously approved. In introducing the resolution, District I Legislator Taylor Fitch said “Most of the problems in our county are created by state mandates, almost on a daily basis. We need to change (government) in New York State. All the power is downstate, not upstate.”

Key excerpts from the resolution (see story below) include:

“Whereas, tough economic times and New York State’s tremendously high tax burden are causing families and businesses to struggle, while state government has been paralyzed by questions of gubernatorial succession, leadership fighting and political dysfunction:

Whereas, families and businesses have been forced to cut back, while New York State government continues to spend beyond its means and force unfunded mandates on already overburdened local governments and taxpayers;-

We ask that the delegates consider government reforms such as state spending cap and property tax cap, restrictions on unfunded mandates, debt reform and absolute ban on backdoor spending, public authorities reform -”

Other business at the legislator’s Oct. 13 meeting included:

•  POSITION: An Interim Deputy Sheriff position was abolished, as it was no longer needed.

• PUBLIC HEARING: There was no discussion or public comment on a local law to increase the reserve fund from $300,000 to $500,000. Approval was given.

• PUBLIC SAFETY: Chairman Donna Alexander reported that she attended a Victim Impact Panel event. She said two mothers, who had lost children as a result of  drunk drivers, made dramatic presentations about people making bad choices.  Those convicted of drunk driving in the county are required by the court to attend VIP.

Alexander also attended a Drug Court graduation. Three men wrote and then presented essays describing how people in the public safety network had helped them along the way. She added that a lot of misinformation has been circulating concerning the D.A.’ s office and the graduation gave a positive insight into how this program works as an alternative to incarceration.

Legislator Tim Dennis noted that District Attorney Susan Lindenmuth was a featured speaker and received a lot of praise.

• CENSUS: Legislator Deb Flood again reminded people about the importance of the census and how county funding is based on an accurate count of every person in the county.

• APPOINTMENT: Chairman Bob Multer re-appointed Klass Martens to the Yates County Soil and Water Board.

• STOP DWI: The chairman was authorized to sign the 2010 STOP DWI budget and plan of $83,987 with an anticipated revenue of $83,987.

• PROCLAMATION: Sheriff’s Week will be recognized Oct. 18-24. This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The county encourages the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department in offering support to victims.

The week of Nov.16 is designated as Juror Appreciation Week to recognize those who take time from their daily lives to fulfill the highest responsibility of citizenship.

•  AIRPORT: A low bid for striping of Runway 10-28 at the Yates County Airport was approved and awarded to Zebra Paint Striping from Hornell. The funding comes from the airport Pavement Management Reserve Fund.

•  ELECTION BOARD: Approval was given to increase the hours of two Elections Operations Assistants not to exceed 1200 hours for both positions during 2009.  These are part-time positions.

• HOLIDAYS: Based on the lack of traditional business volume on certain holidays, the offices of County Clerk,Treasurer, Clerk of Legislature and Sheriff’s Civil Office will be closed the day after Thanksgiving and the half days before Christmas and New Years when the holidays fall on a weekday.

• EXECUTIVE SESSION: The legislature entered into executive session to discuss union negotiation. No action was to be taken.