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ORLEANS COUNTY TO VOTE ON JOINING ERIE CANAL REVITALIZATION PARTNERSHIP

Orleans County will become the third Western New York area to approve an Erie Canal revitalization plan, if legislators give their final go-ahead Wednesday.

Legislators recently reviewed a plan to create a state partnership meant to manage the Erie Canal corridor in Western New York -- an effort already supported by the Erie and Niagara County Legislatures through resolution.

The plan proposes a 15-member Western Erie Canal Partnership involving community residents and leaders from Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Wayne and Monroe counties.

Legislators were assured recently by project planners that no funding commitment is required to be a part of the partnership. Also, money set aside in a newly created fund would not need to be returned to the State Legislature at the end of each year if left unused, as is the case with other state agencies.

The agency needs to be approved by the all the counties proposed.

In other action, Orleans legislators will also vote to accept the initial list of major capital purchases totaling $1.3 million for 2005. This list could be altered throughout the fall as legislators continue to draft the proposed 2005 budget.

Department head requests for major road, vehicle and equipment expenditures jumped from the $118,000 budgeted for such items this year, according to initial estimates. County officials said some of the costs cannot be avoided but will be tough to fund during difficult economic times.

County leaders already have trimmed department head requests from an initial total of $2.2 million. Orleans officials said the proposed list will be subject to future review and cuts. The expenses still need to be approved as part of the 2005 budget, to be finalized later this year.

Major requests include: road construction, $525,000; rehabilitating the East Scott Road bridge, $340,000; replacing six vehicles for the Sheriff's Department, $95,000; and purchasing electronic voting machines, $20,000. An estimated $30,000 was also requested for marine park docking at Point Breeze.

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