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Niagara County borrows $5.5 million at record low rate

Niagara County borrowed $5.5 million Tuesday and received the lowest interest rate it has ever received on a long-term bond issue.

County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews said the 15-year bonds will be sold for 2.22 percent to Roosevelt & Cross, a national bond underwriting firm.

Monday, Moody's Investors Service rated the debt Aa3, holding the county's credit rating unchanged from its last report. "We're in the top 25 percent of counties in New York State," Andrews said.

The borrowing package, approved by the County Legislature last June, includes $2 million for repaving a group of five roads: parts of Packard Road in the Town of Niagara, Lower River Road in the Village of Lewiston, Lockport Road in Wheatfield and the Town of Niagara, Tonawanda Creek Road in Pendleton and Old Niagara Road in Lockport.

Also included are $1.64 million to be applied to the repaving of Beebe Road in Wilson and $1.25 million to reconstruct the Lockport Road Bridge over Bergholtz Creek in Wheatfield.

The county also will borrow $655,000 to buy two dump trucks with plows and salters, a one-ton roller with a trailer and a truck with a pothole-patching unit.

Andrews said the county obtained the money last year through a nine-month note, and when it expired, decided to refinance for a 15-year term.

"We decided to take advantage of the record low interest rates," the treasurer said. Repaying the bonds will cost $441,438 a year for 15 years, he said.

Before this borrowing, the county had $55.9 million in bonded debt. Andrews said most of that debt is in the water and sewer districts, and the general fund debt, counting the new borrowing, is about $17 million.

Also Tuesday, the Legislature voted to appoint Richard W. Rutland, a Newfane funeral director, as District 4 coroner for the rest of this year. The post pays $17,500 for a full year.

Rutland, 51, a Republican, is expected to run this fall for election to the last three years of the term that Russell Jackman II won last year.

Jackman resigned April 30 and pleaded guilty the next day to giving Cambria Fire Chief Vincent Salerno a piece of the corpse of a man killed in an April 13 car wreck. The tissue was to be used to train a cadaver dog.

"I want to give the utmost respect and dignity to all the deceased," Rutland said.

Legislators Dennis F. Virtuoso and Jason A. Zona voted against Rutland. Zona said they would have preferred Gerald Frazier II, a Niagara Falls firefighter who ran against Jackman last year.

The lawmakers also tapped their dwindling supply of Seneca Niagara Casino revenues to pay for local doings. The fund, which was down to $69,132 before Tuesday's votes, has been cut off by state law.

Canal Fest of the Tonawandas was granted $10,000 for this year's event. Approval also was granted for $2,800 for Wilson marketing brochures and $2,200 for a War of 1812 historical marker commemorating a skirmish at Baer and Ridge roads in Cambria on Dec. 19, 1812.

Three other resolutions seeking casino money were referred to committee.

Legislator Kathryn L. Lance, R-Wheatfield, seeks $5,000 for her town's July 4 celebrations.

Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, wants $2,500 to help the Das Haus German heritage museum in Bergholz and $1,500 for the Niagara County Builders Association to promote a show of new homes.

The Niagara Falls delegation sought $5,000 for the proposed revival of the Festival of Lights on Main Street in the Falls.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com