Contract not yet settled for county’s consultant to the gas industry

NORWICH – A conflict of interest issue has not stopped swirling around a consultant who was hired in mid-September to develop economic opportunities within the natural gas industry for Chenango County.

Lengthy executive sessions were held during this month’s Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday at a meeting of the Planning & Economic Development committee where Preston businessman Steven Palmatier’s contract was discussed. The contract has not been signed, and Palmatier hasn’t been paid.

While both sessions were closed to the media, at issue appears to be specific wording in the contract that would prohibit Palmatier from talking to energy companies or pipeline developers in the scope of his duties.

Board Chairman Richard B. Decker said Palmatier’s personal business relationship with Norse Energy Inc., a gas company that has drilled a well on his wife’s property and is proposing to build a pipeline through or near her land, would make it a conflict of interest if he were to discuss economic development matters for the county with them.

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