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Burmaster envisions a brighter future Legislature chairman points to projects to come in State of the County address

Niagara County Legislature Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster on Tuesday proudly offered a list of upcoming projects by government and the private sector that he said will create jobs.

During his State of the County address at a breakfast meeting of the Niagara USA Chamber, Burmaster pointed to projects that include the HSBC data center in Cambria and the Seneca Nation golf course in Lewiston.

However, Burmaster said the coming new passenger terminal at Niagara Falls International Airport is "arguably the Number One issue we can get excited about."

Besides predicting jobs from airport expansion, Burmaster also said he was excited about the HSBC project, which is to be built at Lockport and Comstock roads in Cambria and for which the bank projects an investment of $944 million over 15 years.

"New tax revenue plus new jobs equal lower taxes for all," Burmaster said.

Burmaster said the county will choose a site for a new $14 million Public Works headquarters this year and plans to begin construction by the spring of 2008.

He also mentioned the coming new courthouse in Niagara Falls and the county's plan for student housing at Niagara County Community College and its long-range plan to construct two new office campuses.

"We hope to have a clear direction on this, perhaps by the third quarter," the chairman said.

All these projects will create jobs, Burmaster said.

"Jobs reduce social costs. Reducing social costs lowers taxes. Development means more revenue to support the required services the citizenry expects," he said.

The Ransomville Republican offered the county's oft-reiterated complaints about state-mandated Medicaid costs.

Medicaid is the largest item in the county budget, but Burmaster said, "That is not to say that property taxes are simply someone else's responsibility. We cannot shirk our duty to spend taxpayer dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible."

He said the upcoming private-sector projects could have a positive impact on taxes, even though many of them, such as the HSBC project and the Seneca golf course, are expected to receive tax breaks.

He also hailed AES Corp.'s talk of new investment at its Somerset power plant but didn't comment on the controversy over the tax break the plant has received from the county Industrial Development Agency, which is now being challenged in court.

Burmaster also said the situation at Mount View Health Facility, no matter how it comes out, will help taxpayers.

The county has a contract to sell the nursing home, but it has also sued the state because a state health care commission's recommendations apparently blocked the deal and could lead to the facility's closure.

Before an audience of more than 100 business and political leaders in Antonio's Restaurant, Banquet and Conference Center, Burmaster also took the opportunity to tout one of his pet projects: a ferry service between Youngstown and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

"This could bring in excess of 100,000 visitors each year," Burmaster asserted.


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