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Lawmakers OK refinancing of bonds

The Genesee County Legislature voted Wednesday to refinance $22 million in bonds issued by the Monroe County Water Authority, a partner in the countywide water supply system.

The refinancing -- which will probably take place in September under a new state law involving environmental facilities -- will save county taxpayers more than $100,000 a year with an interest rate of 3.6 percent, compared with the original 5 percent.

The Monroe County Water Authority and Genesee signed an agreement seven years ago to allow the Rochester-based utility to own and operate county water systems, including the Batavia filtration plant.

The long-debated merger was designed to bring water to rural areas, in part to spur economic development. It was a factor in the development of corporate parks at Thruway exits east and west of the city.

The anticipated savings in future bonds was the second plus this week for county finances. Earlier, it was learned that, under the new state budget, counties with racetrack video lottery terminals will receive 3.5 percent of the gaming income. Genesee County's share for 2006 is $210,080.

Batavia Downs generated nearly $24 million from its VLT's last year. The City and Town of Batavia, in which the harness racetrack is located, will share more than $600,000 based on population.

In other business, the Legislature:

*Approved renting office space at $275 per month for support services at the privately operated former Heritage Manor in Le Roy.

*Appointed Dr. Victor J. deSa as a temporary public health director. DeSa, a retired surgeon and former consultant to the county Health Department, will succeed Dr. Christopher M. Szwagiel, who is on leave and reportedly seeking another position.

*Approved a nine-year term on the Genesee Community College board of trustees for Melvin J. Wentland, a longtime member of the board.

*Accepted $105,000 in federal funds for a program that monitors drinking water supplies. The grant provides materials and the salary of a public health technician.

*Authorized the annual renewal of $9,000 for the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council to promote music and art appreciation, and $4,500 to the Business-Education Alliance, an ongoing program that promotes partnerships among businesses and schools to improve employment readiness.

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