Manufacturers Association Head Blasts Plan To Sell Jamestown Wastewater Facility, Plans Legal Action

JAMESTOWN – Todd Tranum, executive director of the manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, is taking a hard line on the plans to possibly sell Jamestown’s wastewater treatment facility, calling it a “reckless scheme.” Tranum said the association has hired legal counsel to combat the plan.

“The proposed sale of the Wastewater Treatment Facility is just another reckless scheme that puts the city further into debt, will lead to wastewater rate increases and does nothing to improve the local economy,” Tranum said at the Jamestown City Council Work Session. “Why should taxpayers and ratepayers have to pay a second time for a facility that they have already paid for once before? This scheme does nothing to support economic development and create jobs.”

Tranum voiced his displeasure with city officials for not developing a better plan.

“Year after year we have called on city administration and city council to develop a multi-year plan focused on tax base growth and cost reduction, and year after year we see no action. Time and again business people have offered recommendations to enhance revenues and reduce costs but evidently the input of area business people is not valued by the city. It is a really unfortunate situation at a time when there are some promising initiatives and projects on the horizon,” he said. “The transaction scheme being proposed by the administration is so concerning that we have retained legal counsel through the Manufacturers Association to work with us to challenge the proposal.” said Tranum.

Tranum noted the State Comptroller has been pushing for more control of local development corporations.

“Comptroller DiNapoli made the following statement  “It’s another example of entities that are set up with good intention often for economic development purposes, and we’ve seen some real difficulties. Where again, there hasn’t been the appropriate accountability or transparency about funding. Taxpayers often end up on the hook for decisions made by LDCs.”

“Earlier, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo took the final steps to close down and get rid of three Local Development Corporations. In doing so Monroe County has assumed $80 million dollars in debt. Local Development Corporations have been plagued with transparency issues, corruption and ultimately litigation. These were the driving factors in Monroe County that led to the closing of the Local Development Corporations,” Tranum said.

 Tranum noted Sections 51 and 52 of the City Charter reads that “neither the City Council nor BPU can sell or lease the waste water treatment plant to any person or corporation unless authorized by a special election vote.  Our counsel has advised us that even a sale to a local development corporation still requires voter authorization under the Charter.”

 The Manufacturers Association has retained the counsel of Harter, Secrest & Emery. Our legal counsel will be in touch with City’s Corporation Counsel this week.