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Regional Council Will Play Role In State Funding For Municipalities

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POTSDAM - Local entities seeking state funding are being a held to a new standard, which remains largely unclear for the time being.
As part of his attempt to revamp the way state money is distributed, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has created a new process for selecting worthy projects.
Local officials seeking funding must submit their application to their regional council. They will score the plan based on a number of factors, including whether the proposal fits into the council's strategic plan for the region.
The problem is that the strategic plan is still in the works.
Funding applications are due by the end of month, but the council's strategic plan won't be completed until November, leaving local officials left to give their best guess as to what the council is looking for.
"There certainly not perfect timing here," North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Garry F. Douglas said. "But that's just way it is the first time around."
In addition to the $200 million which regional councils are directly competing for a piece of, Mr. Cuomo has designated another $800 million in grants from various state agencies, available through a single, consolidated application.
The regional councils will be responsible for reviewing any applications in their territory, using certain criteria to assign up to 20 points to the plan.
The agencies from which the application is seeking funding from will be responsible for assigning the remaining 80 points.
The proposals with the highest point totals will be first in line to receive a share of the $800 million.
While the criteria will be the same for the agencies as it has been in the past, Mr. Douglas said, the council will slant their scores to favor projects aligned with their strategic plan.
If it doesn't fit, the number of points given by the council will reflect that, he said.
"The regional council roles are minor, but they are still significant in the overall score," he said.
Mr. Douglas said entities seeking funding should look to the council's established goals and vision statement for guidance until the strategic plan is in place.
"That should give anyone seeking funding a good basic sense of the kinds of themes that will be the plan," he said.
Potsdam Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss, who has been working on three separate funding applications, said his office is relying heavily on the vision statement as well as local planning documents to guide the village's application for funding of projects like the Sandstoner Skate Park.
"In the absence of a strategic plan, if you can align with the vision statement it can be helpful as a guide," he said. "There is always some guiding documents out there."

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