MAYVILLE - A $100,000 funding block for long-term maintenance projects in Chautauqua Lake will be heading to the legislature floor tonight.
But if earlier attempts are any indication, the legislation may be dead in the water.
Twenty-four hours after being rejected by the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee, a portion of a resolution by Minority Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, has been re-filed as a separate resolution.
Although criticized in committee as "irresponsible" and "inappropriate," Cornell said the funding - which would be appropriated out of the county's fund balance - is crucial for watershed management in the lake, and called the committee's "watered-down" proposal disappointing.
"It is essential that we get off the dime and invest in this economic and natural asset for Chautauqua County," Cornell said in a news release. "Failure to take the necessary steps to protect and enhance Chautauqua Lake will have devastating effects on our local economy and will lead to even higher property taxes for all county residents."
The Jamestown Democrat, in her revamped resolution, again alluded to recent surpluses in the county's undesignated fund balance as the result of reconciliations from the 2011 budget. Cornell said "every penny" of the surplus should be returned to the taxpayers.
"My argument would simply be, what better way to return every penny of that $10 million to the taxpayers than through ... Chautauqua Lake?" she said Wednesday.
In committee, however, the resolution, which had called for $200,000 for immediate and long-term maintenance for the lake, was quickly amended to slash all fund balance appropriations - leaving a $30,000 emergency allocation from the county's 2 percent occupancy tax.
If passed by county lawmakers, the Chautauqua Lake Association would need to match the emergency funding to receive the allocation. As stipulated in the resolution, the funds must be used for weed harvesting.
Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, who chairs the Planning and Economic Development Committee, said even minimal funding for weed harvesting and cleanup efforts is a hard sell, considering a potential $12 to $13 million budget deficit next year.
Croscut said county Democrat and Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations over additional lake funding - pointing to Thursday's Audit and Control Committee meeting where the amended resolution failed to win over either party line before its defeat.
"Our committee worked very hard together to come up with the $30,000," Croscut said. "Discussing it with everyone, it's pretty clear at this point and in time I think we will be fortunate to get that.
"I don't know why Ms. Cornell would go ahead and file it but she has that right as a legislator. I just don't think there's support."
Croscut stressed that the only option available for weed management in the lake is with harvesting equipment, currently utilized by the CLA.
"People have to understand the only tool we have is weed harvesting," he said, adding, "I think it's also time the CLA used the reserves they have. I understand the frustration. We did all we could in committee to get funds."
During committees, CLA President Chris Yates said his association had $500,000 in reserves; however, he stressed those funds are necessary to "protect the assets of the lake."
Cornell said last week she planned to revisit her original request, and noted she wasn't simply going to "walk away from the committee and drop the commitment to the lake."
The resolution in part seeks:
"We have several dedicated people and community-based organizations that make it their mission to protect and enhance Chautauqua Lake," Cornell said. "They understand the economic impact that Chautauqua Lake has and devote a lot of time and effort to that end, and they secure private funding to help support their activities.
"They should not be chastised for their advocacy, they should be thanked for it."