November 18, 2012

Franklin County mulls loans


---- — MALONE — Franklin County may borrow $1 million for its share of the cost of a natural-gas pipeline that Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas is building here.

And a loan is also being discussed for a $2 million reconstruction project for Brainardsville Road, a heavily traveled route between Malone and Plattsburgh.


The 48-mile pipeline between the St. Lawrence County Town of Norfolk and the Village of Chateaugay will bring service to school districts, state prisons, Alice Hyde Medical Center, county buildings, McCadam Cheese in Chateaugay and North Lawrence Dairy.

Construction preparation has already begun off County Road 6 between Moira in Franklin County and Lawrence in St. Lawrence County.

Work will be in two phases: going to Malone this year and continuing to Chateaugay in 2014, company officials said.

County Treasurer Bryon Varin told legislators $427,336 is in an account earmarked for economic development, which was created through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Noble Environmental Power when it built a wind-energy site in Chateaugay in 2008.

He recommended the county use that PILOT money, another $24,664 from the contingency fund and a $1 million loan to pay Enbridge the $1.425 million the county pledged for the pipeline.

The county received $1,000 per megawatt of power generated by the 365-foot towers, or $106,500 a year for four years, and control of the funds was placed with the Treasurer’s Office.

It was to be spent on projects selected by the Industrial Development Agency, which is working with Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas on the pipeline.

In May 2011, legislators discussed the arrangement with the IDA, but questions came up about whether the funds spent would be replenished by the county and if future projects need County Legislature approval before the IDA commits to them.

Varin and County Attorney Jonathan Miller reviewed the PILOT, and the treasurer recommends repaying the money within one to three years.

He said the IDA agrees, as long as it has the commitment in writing, which could be accomplished with a resolution voted upon by legislators at their Dec. 6 meeting.


Once the pipeline financing is settled, the county can decide if it wants to borrow another $2 million at the same time for total replacement of Brainardsville Road (County Route 24).

It was used by dump trucks and cement mixers to reach wind-farm projects in Clinton County and eastern Franklin County shortly after receiving nearly $7 million in repairs during 2000 and 2001.

Noble paid for some road repairs then, but it needs entire resurfacing, according to County Highway Superintendent Jonathan Hutchins.

He said it would be cheaper to get a low-interest loan and do the work all at once instead of spending budget money during the next few years for periodic repairs or partial repaving.

Replacement could add as many as 15 years of life to the highway, which was built to state specifications and is therefore 10 feet wider than a typical county road and more expensive to pave and maintain, Hutchins said.

By the time the road is in disrepair, Route 24 could become eligible for state funding again, he said.

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