Cattaraugus County

LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County lawmakers approved an $800,000 contract Wednesday with the Village of Gowanda to pay a portion of the village’s share of an $11 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project.

The county will pay for a portion of the village’s $1.8 million share of the Thatcher Brook Hazard Mitigation Projects, including a diversion channel to Cattaraugus Creek that would open automatically in times of high water.

Legislature Vice Chairman Andrew Burr, R-Gowanda, and Legislator Richard Klancer, a former Gowanda mayor who oversaw cleanup of the 2009 flood, were cosponsors of the resolution to use money from the county’s Economic Development Fund from casino funds.

Burr, who cited Corps of Engineers estimates of increase property value after a flood control project, said the county would reap enough in increased property taxes to pay for its share of the project cost in less than a decade.

The 2009 flooding in Gowanda from Thatcher Brook overflowing into neighborhoods and the business district, left an estimated $150 million in damage in its wake.

Burr said Corps of Engineers’ models have shown the project will reduce community damage by 95%. Flood maps will have to be redrawn as well, he added.

“The county should get their money back in 10 years or less,” Burr said.That justifies the use of county economic development monies, he added.

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Burr was a cosponsor on another resolution urging the state legislature to reject Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to permanently intercept $625 million in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding to New York counties.

The estimated annual impact to Cattaraugus County if the governor is successful in raiding the federal funding is nearly $2.2 million, Burr said. That equals a 4.5% property tax increase, he explained.

The state already requires counties to pay nearly 25% of their Medicaid costs, Burr said.

U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-23rd District, has introduced the Protect Local Taxpayers Act in a bid to block Hochul from seizing the local FMAP funding.

Another resolution directs $503,328 from the state Opioid Settlement Fund be used for medication assisted treatment for county jail inmates with opioid addiction. The major expenses are wages, fringe benefits and pharmacy supplies.

Legislators also agreed to hire MDA Consulting Engineers, Ellicottville, for engineering consulting services for the Onoville Marina Park Rehabilitation and Expansion Project.

Legislators also asked state lawmakers to enact bills to permit the county to lease county reforestation property known as Bob’s Pond to the town of Perrysburg for up to 30 years.

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