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Legislature Votes Down Construction Of Solar Array At Cortland County Landfill

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The Cortland County Legislature last night (September 26) voted on entering a 25-year contract with Abundant Solar, Inc. to build a 10 acre, two megawatt array at the county landfill. After an airtight vote that came all the way down to a weighted tally, the contract proposal failed.

Abundant Solar, Inc. is a Rochester-based company which submitted the lone bid for the county’s request for proposals on the project. The original agreement was to build an array of 40 acres.

Prior to the vote, Legislator Paul Heider (LD-16) voiced his concerns about the initial downsizing of the proposal:

“I cannot accept anymore of our county getting just a little piece of the pie,” said Heider. “It’s time to bring revenue into our county, and developing only 25% of what we want is just not acceptable.”

In direct response to these statements, several legislators who supported the contract argued that its terms are the best the county can obtain right now.

One of them was Legislator Beau Harbin (LD-2).

“This is the largest project that can be put on the landfill with the existing power transmission,” Harbin said. “Unless we’re willing to kick in a significant cost to the taxpayer, this is the largest that any solar company can build at the landfill as it stands today.”

Several more discussions ensued, before the vote was finally taken to a roll call that needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

That was not achieved and the contract proposal is now dead.

Other highlights from last night’s meeting:

Constitutional Tax Limit 

Legislators voted to postpone a resolution that would raise a metric used to calculate the county’s Constitutional Tax Limit, which in turn significantly lowers the percentage of that limit that’s used.

Currently, the Cortland County is at more than 94% of its state-allowed Constitutional Tax Limit. It’s been above 90% for several years in a row.

New York State’s constitution allows for a county to raise this CTL base metric from 1.5% to 2%, which would lower the county’s percentage used somewhere into the 60s.

A public hearing on the measure has been scheduled for the start of the next meeting on October 24.

Workers Compensation 

A meeting on the county workers’ compensation plan has been set for Monday (September 30) to continue discussions among members of the County, City, Towns and Schools Committee (CCTVS).

Several municipalities have already laid out their potential departures from the plan, including the city of Cortland.

Any changes or final decisions on the matter are expected to be made in the coming weeks.

New 911 Communication Center

Approved last night was the commencement of a capital project at 22 West Court Street, which will ultimately transform a vacant, county-owned property into a new 911 communications center.

Phase I begins with interior demolition and asbestos abatement, which has been contracted to O’Rourke, Inc. out of Owego on a winning bid of $23,489.

Phase II was also approved, awarding the project’s roof abatement and replacement services to WCA Roofing out of East Syracuse on a winning bid of $73,200.

Funds for both phases were provided by state grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

Cheningo Solon Pond Road Culvert Replacement

Also approved last night was the continuation of a project to replace a large culvert on Cheningo Solon Pond Road.

The design phase is already complete and construction has begun. The next step is a thorough site inspection.

Last night, the county approved a $32K allocation for this purpose to Barton & Loguidice, D.P.C., who’s provided the professional engineering services on the entire project so far.

In total, the more than $540K project is 100% state-funded through the Bridge-NY program.

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