WATERLOO — The Seneca County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to request that the $900,000 to be paid for the sale of 7,000 acres of the former Seneca Army Depot be turned over to the county.
Whether the seller of the property, the county Industrial Development Agency, complies with the request remains to be seen.
The board voted 13-1 in support of a motion requesting, but not forcing, the IDA to turn over the proceeds of the sale to Earl Martin to the county to pay for repairs and upgrades to the water system infrastructure in Seneca County Water District No. 1, which serves the former depot and other areas in the south end of the county.
Supervisor Ron McGreevy, R-Tyre, was the sole no vote.
Earlier in the meeting, IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson addressed the board on the motion.
“It really isn’t $900,000. We’ve had significant expenses related to the sale of that depot property. Net proceeds might be a better term to use,” Aronson said.
Over the past 10 years, he said, the IDA has incurred about $900,000 in expenses to advertise, market and manage the depot. He also said there won’t be any proceeds until a closing on the lease/sale, which could occur May 29.
“There could also be claims filed over the sale by other parties. You’d have to deal with them, not us,” Aronson said.
Aronson suggested an alternative. He said the joint IDA, county and county Chamber of Commerce economic development strategy that will begin to form this Thursday could be a project to designate the depot proceeds to for recommendations made.
Bob Hayssen, R-Varick, said the county water district has major problems, with aging infrastructure and significant water loss due to leaks. “They need help and this is one good way to use money from the depot to help the depot,” Hayssen said.
Aronson said the IDA plans to apply for state Consolidated Funding Application grants to help improve the infrastructure in the 7,000 acres. He said those applications would be helped by Martin’s plan to relocate his Seneca Iron Works business there and create some 200 jobs.
“I still say we need to invest in the water system on the depot. We need to find a way,” Hayssen replied.
“We are as needy as you are,” Aronson responded.
In other action, the board:
APOLOGY — Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti, D-Fayette, said she was wrong two weeks ago in chastising County Manager John Sheppard for seeking a small amount of money to begin the shared services committee and study, which he said was mandated by the governor.
“I was wrong. It was a knee-jerk reaction and I apologize. The county manager was just playing by the rules,” Lorenzetti said.
She said State Sen. Pam Helming, R-54, of Canandaigua, scheduled a meeting May 4 for local officials to discuss the shared services requirement, bringing in a staff attorney for the State Senate to explain it.
“He answered all our questions. It clear we have to do this. I have to back track and take a team approach,” she said, suggesting water services might be a shared service to study.
Board chairman Bob Shipley, R-Waterloo, thanked Lorenzetti and said it is time to move forward.
Several board members emphasized that unfunded state mandates are what is causing increasing pressure on property taxes and local governments are always looking at shared services to save money.
Sheppard said the shared services panel will meet for the first time Tuesday.
GAMING REVENUE — Sheppard told the board the county has received $380,000 as its first quarter payment from the del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, a condition of its state gaming license.
He said $1.5 million in casino revenue is in the 2017 county budget. It was noted that the revenue may increase once the hotel and spa are open this summer.
SPEAKERS — Joe DiCicco and John Dendis of Waterloo both spoke about the Seneca Meadows Landfill and its ongoing odor and other issues.
DiCicco said the state Department of Environmental Conservation can’t be trusted to properly monitor and protect citizens from the negative impacts of the Seneca Falls landfill, the state’s largest.
Dendis criticized the fact that three members of the Seneca Falls Town Board who support the landfill are able to decide the future of the area by not supporting a definite closure date for the landfill.
He also accused the landfill of not telling the truth and using scare tactics about property tax increases and for making excuses for not controlling the odor issue the past two years.
Seneca Fall Supervisor Greg Lazzaro, one of the three Dendis was referring to, defended his votes and said he is “comfortable about the decision we made” last week in adopting Local Law 2.
He invited Dendis to meet with him at his office and have a civil conversation. Dendis said he’d take him up on that offer.