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Yates will get  $2 million in stimulus funds

PENN YAN—Senator Charles Schumer delivered some good financial news to Yates County in person on February 19. Addressing officials from county municipalities and businesses, Schumer announced that between $2 and $2.3 million in direct budget aid for Yates County will be coming to the county as a result of the Federal Economic Stimulus Plan. The money is meant to help ease the crushing property tax burden on homeowners. Schumer said he was not able to give an exact amount that the county would receive due to the fact that the government is using at least two different figures.
Medicaid is one of the largest line items in the budget with Yates expected to pay $3.9 million for Medicaid services in 2009, translating to an average of 31.7 percent of property tax revenue. The stimulus money would allow the county to use tax revenue for other needs. School aid will be based on a formula that is hoped will prevent layoffs or cuts. Infrastructure is another area that is targeted. Schumer said, "There is more discretion here; roads, bridges, highways, water, sewer and buildings are all covered. The money will be given to Albany in a big chunk then distributed to the areas."
The Federal criteria is that proposed infrastructure projects be shovel ready within 180 days. One of the possibilities is bringing broadband to rural areas. Schumer said, "I know that is a big issue here. This is a county where broadband would apply. You are made for this. We will get criteria to  you on how to apply." Yates County administrator Sarah Purdy said Yates has a proposal with Ontario County to bring a spur here.
People in the audience had an opportunity to ask questions after Schumer's presentation. One of the questions was from Purdy who said, "The county now owns 15 acres on Keuka Outlet.  We know it will be great for the economy in the long run. Great infrastructure will be required and we can't get our arms around this fast enough. What should we do?" Schumer advised applying for funds, noting there may be an extension of water and sewer funding.
Finger Lakes Economic Development Center director Steve Griffin asked about funding that was awarded over the last one and a half years for grape and organic projects, but the county can't get at the money. New York State Assemblyman James Bacalles answered Griffin's question, noting, "Every economic development piece is on hold."
Speaking about the economy, Schumer said, "From one end of the country to the other the economy is in bad shape. It's worse than in any time since the Great Depression." Calling the current situation a deflationary spiral, Schumer said, "Economists don't know how to get out of the spiral. The stimulus is meant to jolt the economy and has as its goal the creation of new jobs or save existing jobs.
Schumer also talked about what happened to result in the current financial crisis, commenting, "We went on a binge; government, businesses, Wall Street and people. People now owe an average of $8,000 to $9,000 on their credit cards. Ten years ago the average was $1,000. Can we get back to the old fashioned values?"

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