By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — Several years ago, rather than build a new multi-milliion dollar jail facility, the Orleans County Legislature upgraded and updated the existing facility. On Wednesday, Wendell Engineering spoke before the Legislature’s regularly scheduled meeting. The group’s message was simple: The upgrades have created energy efficiency.
The information provided by the company showed how the new boiler, domestic hot water system, and roof put on the jail have already started saving the county money. According to Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer, Wendell was one of two companies to label the jail as a viable facility going forward.
“We had another engineering study done by Labella Associates, and that study said if we did all these things we’d extend the life of the jail by another 25 years,” Nesbitt said.
Orleans County was under pressure by the State Commission on Corrections a few years ago to either improve its current jail or replace it, and the results of the county’s efforts affected the jail the most. Nesbitt said Orleans County’s nursing home, office building, and lights in county areas also received energy upgrades to a more efficient technology.
“We received about $111,000 in grants for this project to offset the costs,” he said. “The project is viewed as a complete success; We succeeded in all outcomes and came in under budget.”
Being under budget will allow the county to do some extra work that it had not originally planned to do.
“We have some capital needs we can address,” Nesbitt said, adding that the Legislature was please to already seeing the project “pay for itself” through reduced energy costs.
Also on Wednesday, the legislators announced that the ground breaking for three self-support radio towers in the towns of Clarendon, Albion, and Shelby will happen in November.
Legislators also passed a resolution asking New York State to make up its collective mind regarding the property tax cap. Whereas this is the third year of the tax cap, it is also the third year in which the state has changed the methodology required for calculating the tax cap.
The Legislature’s resolution asks the state to pick a method and stick with it.
In other news, a petition with 1,100 signatures was handed to the Legislature, and its signees were asking for Orleans County to remove its four percent sales tax on gasoline and home heating fuel. That tax accounts for about $3 million worth of county revenue. The people who submitted the petition asked the county to find cuts in other departments to make up for the loss.
Nesbitt said, “To achieve something of that magnitude requires the elimination of a things, which people would find distasteful.” He noted that removing the tax without making cuts would add two to three dollars per thousand to the tax rate.
The county’s local libraries were also on the dockett Wednesday. Their representatives made a presentation in which they asked for $1 per citizen. In the past few years, Orleans County has given the libraries in its jurisdiction $10,000, and it has not yet decided what it will do this year.