Cattaraugus County lawmakers discuss possible uses for casino money - The Buffalo News
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Cattaraugus County lawmakers discuss possible uses for casino money

LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County has received $500,000 of the $6.7 million expected from the pot of delinquent casino revenue.

County Administrator Jack Searles, who said the remainder of that sum is expected to arrive shortly, made the assessment during a meeting of the Legislature last week, when possible targets for the money were discussed.

“We are like kids that just got our allowance and are going to the candy store. We are going to spend all of our money and come away with a bad stomachache,” observed Legislator Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca.

One project seeking the coveted “pot of gold,” as it was referred to by Legislator James J. Snyder Jr., R-Cuba, is the Olean Campus of Jamestown Community College, which requested $500,000 to buy and renovate the Knights of Columbus building next to the campus on Hamilton Street. The building would become home to the proposed advanced manufacturing certificate program, expected to graduate 25 to 40 students per year.

To make room for the JCC project, the Legislature approved a resolution that would let the sheriff’s office use $425,000 from the fund balance to upgrade the county dispatch system.

The funds, according to the amendment, would be replaced by casino revenue when it arrives from the state.

The project, requested by Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb, would enhance the dispatch computer system.

“This is close to a $1 million upgrade with a very low cost and free upgrade,” said Legislator, Patrick J. Murphy, R-Cattaraugus.

Absent was support for a visitors center at the former Kwik Fill site in Ellicottville. The county was asked to contribute $40,000 per year for the next 10 years to help offset the rental fees and utilities for the center, which would offer tourism information about the county, according to Brian McFadden of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. The subsidy for the project was tabled, pending the receipt of more casino revenue.

“I think what we need to do is have an application process for the casino funds,” said Legislator Howard VanRensselaer, R-Randolph. “What we need to do is make sure we look at all the projects and determine what projects are going to have the greatest benefit for the county.”

VanRensselaer is chairman of the county Committee on Economic Development, Planning and Tourism.

Legislator Carl Edwards, R-Limestone, suggested another element for the application process.

“We need a strategy,” he said. “We don’t have one. We need to do something like that so we have a map on where we would like to go with tourism and development.”

Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislature gets under way at 3 p.m. in the Legislative Chambers, third floor, Cattaraugus County Center, 303 Court St.

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