County Legislature Appropriating Casino Funds 

By Jann Wiswall

Some proposals for Western New York Casino Settlement Fund support have been approved by the County Legislature as it works through the process of spending the $5.8 million windfall.

$1.6 million of the total funds must be used for Tier 3 economic development purposes. The balance ($4.2) is to be used for Tier 1 and 2 tax and direct impact projects.

Some 50 proposals for projects have been received totaling more than $13 million.

At its Sept. 11, 2013, meeting, two resolutions were approved. One was for $500,000 to support the purchase of Olean’s Knights of Columbus building by Jamestown Community College. Additional funding is being provided by JCC and New York State. In addition, the legislature approved $225,132 for a 9-1-1 system software package for emergency dispatch.

On Oct. 23, the legislature approved $100,000 for replacement of the county jail’s boiler and $150,000 for demolition of the former board of elections building in Little Valley.

Then, at the Nov. 13 meeting, the legislature approved $300,000 to support Ontario Knife Company’s expansion of its plant in Franklinville. It also approved payoff of $1,634,500 in bond anticipation notes. Another $25,000 was appropriated for radio programming of low band frequency used by the county’s fire departments.

Three other projects are on the table for near-future consideration: $25,000 for the county’s historical museum in Machias, approximately $200,000 for the Zoar Valley Gateway Project, and $162,000 for restoration of Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater.

All of the above proposals fall into the Tier 1 and 2 categories. Throughout the rest of the year, various legislative committees plan to continue to evaluate and put forward additional proposals. If there is a balance at the end of 2013, it will be put into a separate 2014 budget line.

“We’re not in a big hurry to spend this money,” said legislator James Boser (D-Allegany). “We want to take our time and carefully consider each project.”

This is particularly true for Tier 3 projects, according to Crystal Abers, director of the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, who is working with the legislature to identify appropriate projects. “These will take longer to work out and consider.” They also must also be approved by the state.

According to Deputy County Administrator Jeffrey VanDeCar, priority will be given to projects that provide new employment opportunities.

To date, there is no indication from the legislature what Tier 3 projects might be moving toward resolution. Some projects that originally were listed under Tier 3 were moved to Tier 1 and 2.

Tier 3 funds left at the end of 2013 also can be moved into a separate budget line in 2014 and can continue to be carried over from year to year.