On Wednesday nigh, the Chautauqua County Legislator approved an amended resolution to provide a $150,000 low-interest loan to the village, to be paid back within five years. The interest was also changed from 2.5 percent to 3 percent. However, the amended resolution did not include a reimbursement of county landfill credits, totaling $87,344, to the village – which was in the original version and created some concern for several lawmakers.
The amended resolution, which was co-sponsored by legislator George Borello (R-Irving) and County Executive Vince Horrigan, received support from both sides of the aisle and also both sides of the county.
Among those who initially opposed the resolution, but eventually offered his support after it was amended was legislator Chuck Nazarro (D-Jamestown), who said he wasn’t in favor of giving the village a reimbursement on landfill credits, but would support the low-interest loan which would help cover infrastructure costs in Forestville.
“These [loans from the county] are tied to infrastructure for those specific areas – water, sewage and drainage,” explained Nazarro. “I think there was some confusion out there that this could open the flood gates for other communities [to request loans from the county]. No. This is very restrictive and I think its important that we help those in our communities, and it does give protection to the county.”
If Forestville fails to pay back the loan within five years, the county would have the right to withhold future sales tax payments to the village. As a result, the county is in no risk of not seeing the loan paid back.
Borello also emphasized that because there is no doubt the money will be paid back, it is important to note that the resolution is in no way a handout for the village.
“It’s very important that we understand that this is not a handout. It is a loan and it is a secured loan, as Mr. Nazarro pointed out. This is something that the village is going to pay to the county,” Borello explained. “Most importantly, there are conditions that came along with this resolution. A committee is going to be formed to look into a financial situation and potential for consolidation, and even putting the vote forward for a potential dissolution.”
The final vote was 17 to 1, with legislator Lisa Vanstrom (R-West Ellicott) voting against the measure. Legislator John Hemmer (R-Westfield) was absent.
As a result, Forestville will see a proposed property tax increase of possible 100 percent, compared to the 445 percent increase it was facing as a result of poor fiscal management by past village officials.
Following the meeting, Forestville’s mayor Kevin Johnson, who was only recently elected to the post, said he and the residents of the village were appreciative of the county for offering assistance. He said that with the loan from the county, the village is now facing a property tax rate that would be estimated $10 per thousand assessed value – nearly double the current rate.