Lewis Lawmakers Postpone Decision On New Building
The Lewis County Legislature put off a decision on a new county office building Monday morning in the face of questions from some lawmakers.
"I would say this would be one of the more thought provoking difficult decisions that has to be made," said Legislative Chair Michael Tabolt.
In a meeting Monday morning, legislators Paul Stanford and Phil Hathway questioned whether the county can afford the project.
They say the county is already pursuing a $14 million project to upgrade its radio system for emergency services.
Stanford said he can't support both projects because it would put the county in too much debt.
"The money is the issue. We can't strap down these people by raising taxes anymore than we have to," said Stanford (D. - District 6).
The new building -- planned for Stowe Street in Lowville -- was expected to cost $10 million. Bids came in last week at around $8.8 million.
Stanford says the county already owes $10 million on its courthouse project.
Legislator William Burke says he's undecided. "We're between a rock and a hard place," he said.
County officials say they're working with the project's low bidder to see if they can reduce costs.
"I really feel that both projects can be done and not bankrupt the county," said Jack Bush (R. - District 9).
Lowville village officials are also concerned about the project. They say Stowe Street is in bad shape and can't handle the additional traffic.
Mayor Donna Smith also says the village's sewage system can't support the building's needs.
Lawmakers did not say when they would reconsider the project.
The legislature's next meeting will be next Tuesday.
Friday, December 9, 2016, Watertown, NY
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