NORWICH – County officials will most likely turn to Tobacco Settlement Funds in order to afford its share of legal defense costs in the fight against New York Regional Interconnection’s proposed high power line.
The funds have filtered down to the county level each year since the 1998 legal settlement between the United States and major tobacco companies. The bulk of Chenango County’s portion is regularly used to help offset Medicaid costs. Smoking awareness programs, the Public Safety Facility’s communications project and a handful of other expenses are also paid for with tobacco funds.
Lawmakers have authorized $654,000 of the $767,000 received to date, according to Treasurer William E. Evans. About $840,000 was received in 2005. “There could be a bit more coming our way this year, but we’ll have to wait and see,” Evans said.
Saying he thought it was important for a town not affected by the power line to stand in support of the fight against it, Town of Pharsalia Supervisor Dennis Brown moved to utilize tobacco funds for the county’s $50,000 share in legal costs. The New York State Association of Counties is spearheading the legal defense effort that would fight a controversial electromagnetic high power line that would run through eight Central New York counties, including Chenango. NYSAC is requesting $400,000 from counties and $600,000 from the state.