County Planning Board hears capital investment pitches

MAYVILLE – Members of the Chautauqua County Planning Board were in Mayville for nearly 10 hours Tuesday for presentations on county Capital Projects.

Throughout the day, they heard from various department heads, including information technology; the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office; Department of Public Facilities; Jamestown Community College; North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District; officials from the landfill, CARTS and airports; and Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

“This is an opportunity for all the department heads to request capital projects funding for next year, to invest in their infrastructure and things in their departments,” said Mark Geise, CCPED deputy director. “The Planning Board, by statute, evaluates the requests made by all of the departments for capital projects funding for next year.”

Following each presentation, the board had opportunities to ask questions of the presenter to gather further information about the proposed project. The board then had the task of ranking each proposed project in the order it felt was most important to the county, its functions, residents and tourists. Last year, roughly $1.2 million was awarded for county capital projects, according to Geise. Kitty Crow, budget director, predicted the amount this year will be higher.

“When it all gets prioritized, they see where the money is,” Geise said. “They all get ranked by this group, and then they all have to be approved by the Legislature. The Legislature, in most cases, approves what they recommend. In some cases, they might move things around a little bit.”

The money for the projects comes from interest the county earns throughout the year. The cash comes from local funds, as well as state and federal money.

“A few years ago, the Legislature, in its financial policy, said that its interest earnings is what was going to fund capital,” said Don McCord, CCPED senior planner. “Prior to that, it was just really what was available from the general fund to the capital cost. So, there is a dedicated amount of money for the capital projects, but it varies.”

Capital projects affect the county and its residents in a number of ways. Road and bridge repair can fall under a capital project, as can park maintenance and trail projects. Additionally, sign and lighting updates, wireless network and phone system upgrades and upgrades to the county jail can also fall under capital projects.

“When you put it all together, it’s unbelievable,” McCord said. “A good example as to the impact to the people of Chautauqua County are the facilities that are needed. Keeping the parks up and maintaining the actual physical structure of the parks. It’s all of those things.”