Press-Republican

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May 2, 2014

Franklin Co. Legislators given three planner options

MALONE — A $45,000 study on whether Franklin County should create a planning entity concluded that a committee should be appointed to look into it more.

And the authors of the report said the county could contract with them again to gather that additional information and ultimately hire them to carry out the planning work.

Franklin County is among a handful of New York counties without a planning body, and creating one is an idea that, in the past, developed in spurts of activity that soon sputtered.

Surveys conducted in 1999 and 2009 determined 70 percent of respondents favored having a county planner.

But the county wanted a new study to learn what grant opportunities were missed because of having no coordinated economic-development and planning strategy.

THREE OPTIONS

Bob Hest of Fuller Communications and Rick LaVitre, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, briefed legislators on the report’s recommendations at an April 3 meeting but did not have copies of the document available.

Last week, County Manager Thomas Leitz released a draft of the report, which includes more than 20 pages of background on the St. Lawrence County Planning Department operation and several more pages of rough notes from telephone and in-person interviews.

The study says the county has three choices: 

Public/private option: Contract with someone to attract investors, write grants, assist and train municipalities in obtaining grants and coordinate county information sharing.

Regional-partnership option: Contract with St. Lawrence County for three years to use its Planning Department resources, then charge municipalities a portion of the expense out of administration fees they obtain through any grants they are awarded.

Contractual option: Contract with Cooperative Extension to tap into its resources relating to agriculture and youth.

The county should expect to pay at least $125,000 a year for any of the options, the report states.

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