County Legislators show support for Soil and Water funding

(Photo via the Cortland County Soil & Water Conservation District).

After calls from the public to increase funding for Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at the 2023 budget public hearing in October, legislators unanimously approved an additional funding proposal of $11,000 last week.

Additional funding, SWCD Manager Amanda Barber said at Thursday’s Agriculture, Planning and Environmental Committee meeting, could help with field equipment replacement and digital infrastructure upgrades. Since a budget cut in 2020, the SWCD lost a technical position as well as a part-time clerk position. The department also has one additional vacancy unrelated to funding.

“We are missing out on financial opportunities because we simply don’t have enough people to do the work,” Barber said. “There is a balance where these projects take longer. We don’t have the funding to get these projects done and we also don’t have the staff.”

Barber said she currently relies on soft funding and grant funding to pay for staff costs at times.

Annually, the department brings about $2 million in grant funding, she added.

“We have to make sure we can provide the match,” Barber said, noting that the match varies. Sometimes it can be a 25-percent match, while some other times it can be 50 percent or a lower 12.5 percent.

Legislators commended Barber’s work.

“You’re doing an excellent job and have been for years,” said Republican Majority Leader George Wagner, LD-15.

The entire Legislature will vote on this measure at their November meeting.