County legislator proposes emergency fund

(Photo via Cortland County).

George Wagner, the Cortland County Legislature’s Republican Majority Leader, proposed a fund to help municipalities with emergency projects at Thursday’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

Wagner (R-LD-15) said the $500,000 pool of funds would come from the county’s $1 million allocation of sales tax.

“When something happens to our towns, villages, and city, we could have a fund available to come to their rescue,” he said. “But this is for emergencies only.”

Part of the discussion regarding sales tax revenue involved setting aside the county’s allocation to fund improvements for the county jail. As of the end of November, the correctional facility reserve account had a little more than $2 million stowed.

“We're not giving anything up,” Wagner said. “I am saying we set the $500,000 aside. We will still continue to take care of the jail. Next year, they'll get their million.”

County Administrator Rob Corpora said the county jail still has issues that need to be addressed.

“One thing to keep in mind, and I'm not against what you're suggesting, is we really didn't fix any of the problems in the jail,” he added. “Now it's older and falling apart quicker. Any future repairs are going to be a lot more costly than they had been in the past.”

Corpora said $2 million may not go as far as they would have before.

“We found out by trying to fix the County Courthouse, $2 million does not go far at all,” he said.

Legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-LD-3) spoke in support of Wagner’s emergency fund idea.

“This is a great idea. I don't at this point want to link it to the issue of the jail,” she said. “I think, as (Corpora) said, there are many outstanding issues with the jail.”

Legislators are going to continue discussing the matter during the committee meetings in March.