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Legislature hears concern over dairy industry

YATES COUNTY—Yates County legislators met for approximately one hour Aug. 10 and in addition to considering more than two dozen resolutions, heard a presentation on tourism in the county from Mike Linehan, president of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Tim Dennis read a prepared statement prior to consideration of a resolution urging the Federal Government to implement immediate actions to help relieve the current dairy fiscal crisis.
Dennis said the current price received by dairy farmers for milk is about $5 under the cost of production on the average dairy farm in Yates County. He said the county has 262 dairy farms with a total of 12,150 cows according the the 2007 Ag census. After outlining costs, he said, “My calculations show a loss of $1,000 per cow annually if the price situation continues. This loss of income represents $12.5 million less coming into the pockets of hardworking dairy farm entrepreneurs.” He listed a number of techniques farmers are using to survive.
Dennis said the requested actions are not drastic and do not request a massive federal bailout, adding, “The survival of American farms is essential to national security, probably more so than the mentioned bank and insurance conglomerates. If we lose everything, we still have to eat.” Dennis concluded, “I am spending this time to make this case because I want this legislature to know the level of anxiety and pain in a $44 million industry in this county. Fifty-eight percent of the county land is in production agriculture. This is the highest rate of any county in the state. We need to understand in this economic climate there is no more money in the tax paying well, especially in agriculture.”
In other business: A resolution was passed during the meeting approving a proposed certificate of incorporation and contenting to the formation of a Local Development Corporation (LDC). The law allows LDCs to issue tax-exempt bonds for the benefit of qualifying Civic Facility Projects and will help nonprofit organizations in the county. The resolution was passed unanimously.
• Finance Committee chairman Taylor Fitch reported he and legislator Dan Banach attended a meeting of the proposed Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum July 21, then urging legislators, “To do everything you can to get the museum into Yates County.” The museum is projected to cost $40 million and to bring 50,000 to 200,000 visitors to it’s eventual location in the Finger Lakes.
• Legislator Douglas Paddock reported former undersheriff Frank Condella has donated $1,000 to the Yates County Veteran’s Service Agency to assist them with their programs.
• Several resolutions were passed related to the Penn Yan/Yates County Airport connected with acquisition of equipment, maintenance and office hangar rehabilitation. Also approved was acceptance of a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for runway work. The FAA share of the project is $239,769, New York State Department of transportation, $6,310 and Yates County, $6,309. Maintenance equipment acquisition is 100 percent state funded and rehabilitation of hangar and office local share is $24,556. The total cost of that project is $245,566.
• A Recovery Zone designation resolution was passed unanimously. Recovery Zone economic development bonds are entitled to a direct federal subsidy of 45 percent of the interest. The entire county was designated as a recovery zone for purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as a result of significant unemployment, home foreclosure rates and general distress as the current recession has had and continues to have a significant adverse impact on the county as a whole.
• A resolution was passed imposing an additional rate of sales and compensating use taxes on occupancy of hotel rooms. Legislator Nancy Taylor emphasized, “ This is not a new tax. It is a renewal.”
• Legislature chairman Robert Multer was authorized to sign a contract with Peerless Window Washing for a total of $3,672 to wash all windows and glass on the county office building, courthouse and buildings and grounds facility. Debra Flood cast the lone no vote.
• Legislators authorized Multer to execute a certificate related to the undertaking of the TLM Excavating & Associates project by the Yates County Industrial Development Agency. The project to be built is rental housing for senior citizens on Skyline Drive in the town of Jerusalem. Flood voted no, stating after the meeting, “I don’t believe government and business should be married.”
The Yates County Legislature will meet Monday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. in legislative chambers in the Yates County office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.

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