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Fri., Oct. 9
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

St. Lawrence County moves to save energy


CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators agreed Monday to authorize a $2.9 million bond anticipation note for an energy performance contract expected to pay for itself.

“In this case, the savings over the course of the project will exceed the cost,” Finance Committee Chairman Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said. “That’s unusual in county government.”

The project with Wendel Energy Services, Amherst, guarantees annual energy savings of $138,224. The savings over the loan period of 15 years is $2.5 million, not including incentives from either New York State Energy Research and Development Authority or National Grid. The savings over the 20-year life of the project will be $3.6 million.

The project also includes capital improvements with longer payback periods to include roofs at the H.B. Smith Building and the 1993 Courthouse and windows for the Highway Department’s administration building.

The work at the Smith building, which houses the Department of Social Services, likely will mean an increase of maintenance revenue from the state ranging from $170,000 to $510,000, Governmental Services Director Michael J. Cunningham said.

Wendel already has selected many of its sub-contractors, 70 percent of which are local. They include RSI Roofing, Gouverneur, and Hyde-Stone Mechanical Contractors, Potsdam.

Some work will be done after regular business hours to minimize disruptions, Mr. Cunningham said.

The meeting also included discussion of other areas where the county will or will not save money.

The county likely will have to spend more in its emergency center to make up for the loss of state police civilian dispatchers to a consolidated 911 complex in Essex County.

At the urging of Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, a retired state police investigator, legislators agreed to ask the state police to re-evaluate its decision. State police have argued the move will mean additional troopers assigned to patrol duties rather than dispatch. But the problem of not having sufficient civilian dispatchers was created by the state police, Mr. Lightfoot said.

The number of state police civilian dispatchers in Canton has dropped from six to three, which forces troopers on desk duty, he said.

The dispatcher salary is not high enough for the people who have those jobs to move to Essex County, Mr. Lightfoot said.

“Those people aren’t going to go anywhere,” Mr. Lightfoot said. “They will not have jobs.”

Legislators lowered the grade on the management schedule of the director of Public Health, dropping the salary range from $85,894 to $107,081 to $74,205 to $92,468 because of the elimination of department programs and staff reduction of 48 positions over the last two years.

They agreed to hire a replacement for Recycling Coordinator Scott A. Thornhill, who left for another job, renaming his former position operations manager. Although some legislators had previously wanted to eliminate the position, Highway Superintendent Donald R. Chambers argued it was needed more than ever because of increased reporting requirements and to meet future demands of reducing organics from the waste stream.

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