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Genesee County legislator pushes for regional jail, court system

BATAVIA – Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini is calling on the state to enact special legislation to potentially establish a regional jail and court system in an effort to control costs.

“Give us the legislation that allows us the opportunity to pursue a regional jail with an adjoining county instead of our county taxpayers bearing the entire cost of a new jail that will be in excess of $36 million,” Cianfrini said Wednesday during his annual “State of the County” address attended by about 35 people – most of them county employees – in the Old Courthouse.

“And why not look at a regional, countywide justice court system that consolidates our current 15 city, town and village courts into two or three centrally located district courts in the county to reduce costs on all the municipalities and the Sheriff’s Office, and provide for a more efficient justice court system?”

Cianfrini included those ideas on a list of “hot button” topics that the county faces in 2016 – “a year of tremendous challenges,” he said.

“I feel it is imperative that we begin discussions immediately to explore the best way to allocate our sales-tax revenues with our municipalities when the current agreement expires (in 2018) and hopefully have some concessions (from the City of Batavia, towns and villages) that allow the county to complete phase two of the county water project,” Cianfrini said.

The county is approaching the final segment of the original $30 million project, with the last three pieces focusing on supplying municipal water from Darien to Alexander, and to the towns of Bethany and Alabama.

As far as the sales-tax agreement is concerned, Cianfrini said Genesee County is the “most generous county in the state” as it currently allocates 16 percent of its share of sales-tax revenues to the city and 34 percent to be divided among the county’s towns and villages.

He said he is putting a committee together to start discussions with the city on a new agreement to replace the existing one (which also expires in 2018).

Cianfrini praised county management and employees for their work last year, noting that the two major accomplishments were the sales of the Genesee County Nursing Home to a private enterprise and the announcement that 1366 Technologies will be building a solar wafer plant at the Western New York Science & Advanced Technology Park in the Town of Alabama.

“However, there is still much to do,” he said. “The state continues to overburden counties with mandates that are an onus to our taxpayers, a new 125-bed jail at a cost of over $36 million is facing us in the near future, our roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair, and with the cost of gasoline going down, (sales tax revenues) will continue to be flat.”

Cianfrini also said he is looking forward to the expansion of Batavia Downs Gaming, which is constructing a new hotel, and is excited about the Pathway to Prosperity program with the city, Batavia school district and Genesee County Economic Development Center to provide funding for reinvestment in the city’s Brownfield Opportunity Area.