County ups contract with lobbyist from $60K to $90K
Legislators want more focus on federal issues, including lake levels, dredging
ALBION – The county will keep a lobbyist for a fourth year, but this time with a 50 percent raise – from $60,000 to $90,000 for the year.
The County Legislature approved the higher rate on Wednesday in a 6-1 vote. Legislator Fred Miller cast the lone opposing vote, despite prodding from Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and Legislator Ken DeRoller for a unanimous vote.
Miller said legislators are challenged each year to stay under the tax cap, and have to cut many expenses from the budget. He said he couldn’t justify the $30,000 increase. He said he would have favored keeping it at $60,000.
DeRoller said the lobbyist, Park Strategies, has been instrumental in helping address state funding issues for the county. He noted several canal bridges are now on the state Department of Transportation’s list for upgrades, and the DOT is paving the Lake Ontario Parkway from Hamlin to 2 miles past the Orleans County line into Kendall.
The $30,000 increase for Park Strategies represents the county’s desire to push harder at the federal level to fight higher Lake Ontario water levels that flooded the south shore last year. DeRoller said the county also will press the federal government for dredging the Oak Orchard Harbor and expanding broadband Internet access in Orleans.
Park Strategies has made a difference in helping the county to strategize and “be in the room” with state officials, DeRoller said.
“We’re trying to improve our relationship with federal officials,” DeRoller said.
Al Lofthouse, chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Party, asked about the role of state and federal elected officials, who Lofthouse said take a lot of credit for advocating for the county.
DeRoller said it’s a team effort to bring needed resources to the county. He praised the efforts of Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Sen. Rob Ortt and Congressman Chris Collins.
The lake level issue, for example, jeopardizes about a third of the tax base in the towns of Carlton, Kendall and Yates, DeRoller said. Landowners there are still waiting for $12 million in reimbursements from the flooding damage last year. The lobbyist is just an added effort to bring attention and funding to the county, DeRoller said.
The new contract runs from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019, at $7,500 a month.