Where Does The County's 'seed Money' Go?
Published: January 8th, 2007
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – Chenango County’s taxpayers spent nearly $580,000 on infrastructure, promotion and business development over the last 10 years, according to a planning department report.

The pool of money, which county leaders interchangeably call “seed money,” “publicity money,” or the “capital project account,” has been collected almost annually at a rate of about $90,000 per year. A resolution passed in 2003 called for the pool to accumulate from year-to-year and imposed a $250,000 cap on it. Previously, any funds not used in a given year were encumbered.

Infrastructure projects and promotion tied for the lion’s share of the money over the past decade, with about $250,000 spent on each. The following municipalities applied for a received some of the funds: Bainbridge, Sherburne, Norwich, North Norwich and Greene. The Town of Bainbridge, which requested and received the highest amount of all towns - $114,470 since 1996 - used most of it to extend water and sewer lines across the Susquehanna River. The town also spent nearly $5,000 back in 2001 to promote economic development. Future plans include building an industrial park across the river.

Sherburne requested and received $10,000 back in 1997 to market its industrial park. The Greater Norwich Development group, an Empire Zone including North Norwich and Norwich and the City of Norwich, used $10,000 of the pool in 1997 as well. North Norwich received $17,500 in 1999 for engineering costs for an unnamed economic development project. And the Town of Greene received $2,500, also in 1999, for an unnamed environmental study.

Other infrastructure projects were $31,000 to purchase land for the Valley Ridge CIT, $15,000 for the Norwich Soccer Club, and $5,000 for the Norwich Skating Park.

Most of the business promotion activities over the last decade were conducted by the Chenango County Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the county. They included membership fees to the Southern Tier East and Leatherstocking Country marketing agents. About $180,000 was spent on tourism alone.

Only $52,100 was applied to agricultural related endeavors, most recently to Cornell Cooperative Extension.

County leaders recommend possible recipients of the pool in concert with the Industrial Development Agency and the Chamber of Commerce. They have tapped into the pool at different rates, with the most activitity in 1999 when nine different projects were approved. Only six entities over the last three years have benefited.

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