Legislators Welcome Kresge

MAYVILLE – It was clear the Chautauqua County Legislature would welcome a new face Wednesday night by the name tag already in place on Beth Kresge’s desk.

As the first order of business at Wednesday night’s meeting, Kresge, D-Jamestown, was seated as the new District 12 representative for Jamestown’s north side with unanimous approval from both sides of the aisle.

A lifelong city resident, Kresge has been involved in the community through the Lakeview Avenue Community Action Project and Hands-On Jamestown.

“This has been a learning process already, but everyone has been very kind and helpful,” Kresge said, adding that her top two concerns as a legislator are economic development and youth issues in Chautauqua County.

She was formerly employed by Keywell in Frewsburg, which closed in October.

“In searching for a job and knowing what the situation is in the county – I’m concerned about that,” Kresge said.

She is currently a stay-at-home mom and plans to run for the District 12 seat in November’s general election for the second part of what would have been Fred Larson’s two-year term.

The seat has been vacant since Larson accepted a position as the second City Court Judge.

In other matters, a labor contract for the Sheriff’s Supervisors’ Association, was approved by a vote of 16-3.

The association is composed of eight upper-management lieutenant supervisors who oversee deputies under the supervision of county Sheriff Joe Gerace.

For a period of employment from Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2016, the contract will cost $98,474 to the county.

Terry Niebel, who commended Joe Porpiglia, director of human resources, for his efforts in negotiating the labor contract, voted against it and cited discomfort with the agreement.

Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, and John Runkle, R-Stockton, also voted against the contract.

Moving forward, the legislature unanimously approved use of the county’s 3 percent bed tax reserves for emergency roof repairs for the former keeper’s house at the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veteran’s Park Museum.

The roof will cost $35,000 to repair, and the resolution stated that collections belonging to the museum could be damaged, including irreplaceable military artifacts, if the roof isn’t repaired.

“Tonight, we have the opportunity to support one of Chautauqua County’s historic treasures,” Scudder said. “Since 1826, the lighthouse has guided the way for not only the ships in Lake Erie, but has also attracted tourists to our county.”

He added that the visitor count to the lighthouse was more than 4,400 people last year, while numbers this year are exceeding last year’s number to date.

Lastly, Doug Bowen, chairman of the county Planning Board, made recommendations for the 2015 capital budget and 2016-20 capital plan.

Bowen expressed concern on behalf of the board that the cost and number of capital projects may be overlooked or underestimated in terms of impact on future operating budgets.

He said the planning board has reviewed 28 capital projects for the 2015 capital budget, and an additional 41 projects for the 2016-20 capital plan. These projects were submitted by 14 various Chautauqua County departments

“The total request for funding capital projects reviewed was $13,946,914, with a county share of $6,069,686,” Bowen said, explaining that the projects are reviewed, but sometimes do not receive consideration.

Furthermore, he recommended that a policy be established to compare necessary projects, and that the county should invest in personnel to assist departments with capital needs in order to help address the impact of projects on future budgets.