County keeps lobbyist at $90K in 2023 to help with state, federal issues and funding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2022 at 11:20 am

ALBION – Orleans County has retained a lobbyist for $90,000 for 2023, keeping a relationship with Park Strategies that started in 2015.

The $90,000 is the same rate the county has paid annually since 2020.

The agreement calls for the county to pay Park Strategies $5,000 a month for government affairs services at the federal level and $2,500 a month for government affairs services at the state level.

The firm will be tasked with helping the county to receive $1.5 million from the federal government for broadband services. That funding was announced by Congressman Chris Jacobs and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer as part of a joint project with Niagara County.

“The way the language of the bill was written, we are having trouble accessing those funds for broadband,” said Jack Welch, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Park Strategies has contacted Jacobs office to try to resolve the issue before his term ends in the next few days. Park Strategies also has coordinated meetings with the federal agency handling the funds to see how the county can access that money, Welch said.

Park also is assisting the county in obtaining $2 million through U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office for a new building for the Emergency Management Office.

“Orleans County currently has $3.5 million in promised funding from the federal government that Part Strategies is assisting us with the progress of being able to access these funds for our broadband and EMO project,” Welch said. “Without guidance from an outside agent for the county, we could very well lose these promised funds.”

Park Strategies was founded by Al D’Amato, the former U.S. senator from New York. The firm has given Orleans County a “louder voice” at the state and U.S. capitols, county officials said.

The firm assists county officials in setting up meetings with representatives from the state and federal governments. Park Strategies also makes the county aware of legislative that could be helpful or harmful to the county, and brainstorms ways to pursue funding for critical projects in the county.

In the past county officials have praised Park Strategies for helping to make the county’s case to the state Department of Transportation for canal bridges to be repaired. The state spent about $10.7 million recently to fix seven bridges.

The state also has repaved portions of the Lake Ontario State Parkway, committed to dredging harbors on Lake Ontario and also allocated funds to protect lakeshore properties from flooding.