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Heated exchange over water rates in SC at board meeting

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors held their regularly scheduled meeting at the Seneca County Office Building on Tuesday evening. While it was not as heavily attended as the last meeting — which saw hundreds in attendance for the county’s decision on the Seneca Army Depot — there was still a dedicated group in attendance. A variety of issues were on the plate in Tuesday’s meeting, but none were more pressing than the water rate increase, which was also one of the final items on the agenda. Water RatesThe debate around proposed rate increases in water district #1, which is currently operating at a loss, according to the supervisors — required a rate increase “in the interest of maintaining solvency within the district.” However, addressing that cost, or how it was going to be implemented and distributed throughout the county was the sticking point for many supervisors. Fayette Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti expressed concerns with the 50 cent markup that occurs when water is moved from Varick. She pointed out that those living in this particular water district were less able to afford the increase, which would move the minimum bill from $47 to $55.84 based on an 8,000 gallon usage. Varick Supervisor Bob Hayssen pointed out though that the markup is required and due to the expense incurred in Waterloo. Multiple supervisors pointed to a chain reaction of costs and expenses, which ultimately led to Lorenzetti’s amendment to the resolution that was receiving a vote to delay further action on this for one year, and at that point request New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to audit the county’s usage of funds relevant to water expenditure. While the amendment drew heavy criticism from several — the modified version of the original amendment passed by a weighted vote of 623-127 and the amendment as a whole passed by a vote of 574-176.”It’s not fair that people have to pay for this,” Lorenzetti said — taking a less-than-subtle swipe at the potential negligence of other municipalities in Seneca County. While plenty of blame was passed around the room, it became clear that a majority of the supervisors did feel that those municipalities that had mismanaged their funds — should be held liable.del LagoThe board voted to amend the 2016 code enforcement budget, which would provide additional overtime costs for the del Lago Resort & Casino construction inspections. An additional amendment was put forward and voted through to allow for the code enforcement officers to have a mobile headquarters at the facility — to aid in the process. del Lago has increased work on the facility — pushing two shifts, seven days a week to ensure that the resort can be completed on it’s current timeline. del Lago will cover all costs associated with these expenditures for Seneca County, and committed a total cost, not to exceed $224,739 according to the amendment passed ruing the meeting. PresentationsA presentation on the growing heroin epidemic by Director of Mental Health in Seneca County, Scott LeVigne, which closely mirrored the issues discussed in the last episode of Inside the FLX was given to the board.LeVigne was followed by Jeff Shipley, President of the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce and Ann Heizmann President of the Seneca County Farm Bureau — who delivered a request to the Board of Supervisors to publicly oppose the $15 minimum wage — pushed forward by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Seneca Falls Supervisor Greg Lazzaro asked Shipley what his response would be to killing the $15 minimum wage. Lazzaro said, “We have to do something — what is the alternative to the $15 minimum wage?”Shipley pointed out that there are as many as 20,000 “middle skill” jobs, which fall between requiring a college degree — and only require some technical training — that are unfilled. Each year, Shipley noted, that figure is growing by 6,000.Stay tuned to FingerLakes1.com for more from the Seneca County Board of Supervisor’s regular meeting on Tuesday.

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