Pipeline money begins to flow

Gwen Chamberlain

The Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC) and the towns of Barrington, Benton and Milo have received the first payments in an agreement with the company that owns the natural gas pipeline built in the area in 2007 and 2008.

National Fuel, the owner of the Empire Connector Pipeline, which passes through Yates County between Farmington and the Corning area, has made the first annual community fund payment of $251,290, which is being divided between the FLEDC and the towns.

The town of Benton is receiving $42,489.92. Barrington is receiving $41,963.41 and Milo is receiving $39,336.59.

Steve Griffin, CEO of FLEDC says additional funds will come in early 2010 when National Fuel makes its first $236,400 installment in the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement.

The Barrington Town Board has decided to use this first installment to help cover the initial cost of a salt mixing barn. The town will be getting a grant to repay the cost of the barn, so the town will eventually get the money back. Supervisor Eileen Farnan said at that point, the payment amount will be added to the town’s general fund.

Griffin says the portion retained by the FLEDC will help pay for an entrepreneur  mentoring program he plans to develop within the agency.

Information on plans for the money in the towns of Benton and Milo was not available.

In 2007, the FLEDC adopted a PILOT agreement with National Fuel which calls for the company to make an annual payment of $236,400 for the first five years of the pipeline’s operation, $472,800 for the next five years, $709,320 for the 11th through 15th years and $688,000 for the final 10 years of the 25 year agreement.

In addition, the company will make an annual payment of $251,290 to the community fund for 15 years. That is the payment that is being distributed now.