Committee Approves Funds For Airports, Supports Sales Tax Extension

Chautauqua County legislators approved two resolutions to accept federal funds for airport projects during Monday’s Public Facilities meeting in Mayville. George Spanos, county public facilities director, briefly discusses the projects with committee members.
P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy

Chautauqua County legislators approved two resolutions to accept federal funds for airport projects during Monday’s Public Facilities meeting in Mayville. George Spanos, county public facilities director, briefly discusses the projects with committee members. P-J photo by Jimmy McCarthy

MAYVILLE — Two projects at Chautauqua County’s airports are obtaining federal funding.

During a Monday meeting, Public Facilities Committee members approved to accept funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and the state for projects at the Jamestown and Dunkirk airports. Specifically, the committee approved to obtain $461,034 in federal funds for a major crack repair project at the Dunkirk Airport. The state and county will each provide $25,613 for the required local share.

At the Jamestown Airport, legislators approved to accept funds for an on- and off-airport obstruction study. Federal funds equate to $149,317. The state and county will each provide around $3,930.

The resolutions gained passage via a 4-1 vote. Legislator Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, voted “no.”

Both projects received legislative approval last year for inclusion in the county’s five-year airport capital improvement plan. The projects were then approved by the FAA and state Department of Transportation for funding. The county’s Airport Commission has considered and recommended the county accept funding.

Legislators on the Administrative Services Committee supported a resolution during Monday’s meeting to extend the additional 1 percent sales tax to maintain an 8 percent rate. The committee also approved to continue a 5 percent occupancy tax on hotel stays.

Approval from the County Legislature this month is the last step needed to continue an 8 percent sales tax. County legislators sent a request to the state in late May to maintain an 8 percent sales tax and a 5 percent occupancy tax. State legislators gave their approval during a special session in late June. Unlike previous years where counties were granted two-year extensions, state legislators agreed to extend sales tax and other tax rates for three years through 2020.

In 2015, the sales tax rate in Chautauqua County stood at 7.5 percent. County legislators agreed that year to bump the rate to 8 percent to give the county more revenue to address a structural deficit. State lawmakers took the county’s request during that time and required county legislators lower property taxes.

In other matters, Administrative Services Committee members agreed to reclassify a water specialist position to a senior level. The reclassification, as requested by the Health and Human Services Department, would be a Grade 24 with a salary between $49,886 and 64,410. The senior water resource specialist oversees the hydrology function of the Health and Human Services Department and develops strategies to protect drinking water and public health.

“The position was analyzed and it did align with a senior level due to the supervisory role,” said Jessica Wisniewski, county human resources director.

The water resource specialist position is held by Bill Boria. Mark Stow, environmental health director, told legislators that Boria has been instrumental in many ways.

“He’s helping Castelli expand its (water) capacity right now,” Stow said. “He’s helped municipalities get funding to upgrade water infrastructure. Bill is a huge asset to us and he isn’t compensated enough for what he does.”

The committee also approved to transfer more than 20 foreclosed properties to the Chautauqua County Land Bank for rehabilitation. Ten properties being sent to the land bank are located in the city of Jamestown while five are located in the city of Dunkirk. Four properties in Ellicott and two properties in Pomfret are also being transferred.

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