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Hector residents still question manure project

HECTOR—In November, Hector  residents thought they heard a definite end to the planned manure containment facility at the Bergen farm. At that time, the Soil and Water Conservation District withdrew the farm’s construction  permit and the project was stopped. But now in December, some area citizen’s are concerned again that the pit may still be built.  
At the Hector Town meeting on Dec. 8, a group of Perry City residents came to protest the Bergen Family Farm’s possible placement of a the manure facility in their neighborhood.
Perry City residents asserted that the land, which contains unusual geological formations called drumlins, was sacred to Native Americans, known to have settled there many centuries before.   Environmental concerns were also raised in the discussion.
A special N.Y. State grant to support agricultural advancement through new technologies would have partially funded the Bergen project.  Town Board member Mike Bergen responded to the group that the grant money was no longer available from the N.Y. State Department of Ag & Markets.  His family put the property up for sale and now wants to plant corn on the site or sell it next year.   Residents are concerned though that the Bergens may proceed without the governmental funding from Albany, financing the project themselves.  
Ben Dickens, Town Supervisor, told the petitioners that Ag & Markets set the regulations for agricultural development.  The Town of Hector cannot establish local laws that are stricter than Ag & Markets’ rules.  In addition, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has jurisdiction over manure impoundments. Hector lies in DEC Region 8. Environmental matters should be taken up with the DEC.
In other business:  Board unanimously approved a resolution to terminate participation in the county health plan consortium.
• Unanimously approved a motion to appoint Finger Lakes Group, LLC as the broker of record and consultant for employee health insurance for 2010.
• Resolved without dissent to sign a contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (Excellus) to purchase their High Deductible Health Plan and their dental plan as a package for employees for 2010.  Expected savings from the new health plan when compared to the county consortium deal in 2010 will be $137,360.  However, the Town will be obligated to pay health claims that occur under the 2009 contract with the consortium for the first part of 2010, which are estimated to be $50,000.  Thus, the net first year savings may approximately amount to $87,000.
• Resolved by unanimous vote to provide four Town employees a separate plan that coordinates payments with Medicare through Blue Cross/Blue Shield.    The employees are not eligible for the HSA accounts and underlying health plan by reason of their eligibility for Medicare.
• Dave Boyer, of Hector, expressed a strong objection to the use of Hector sales tax revenue to support SCOPED.  Dickens stated that the Towns have no control over how the county distributes sales tax revenue and noted that the Town voted against funding SCOPED through the sales tax channel, but could have no affect on the outcome.
The town will hold an end of the year meeting Tuesday Dec. 30, 2009 at the Town Hall beginning at 2 p.m.  

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