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County legislature OKs private firm to collect methane at landfill

Chautauqua County officials are moving ahead to have a private facility capture natural gas at the county landfill and resell it.

On Wednesday, the legislature unanimously agreed to have Chautauqua Green Energy LLC, which is located in Erie, Pa., construct at its own expense a renewable gas plant and infrastructure on an approximately two acre site at the county landfill.

This year CGE will pay the county $1 million. For years 2-10, CGE will pay the county $1 million annually as well as a royalty payments of $.05/MMBTU for all landfill biogas captured. Then from years 11-22, CGE will pay the county $1,000 annually as well as royalty payments of $1.00/MMBTU.

In a separate resolution, all trash collected in Chautauqua County must now be brought to the landfill. Before the resolution passed, language was inserted in the resolution stating that the legislature intends to maintain the county solid waste system’s “historic economical rate structure for the benefit of in-county users, and continue to operate the solid waste system in a manner that provides a competitive business environment for the County’s residents and industries.”

In other business, the county agreed to remove the in-ground fuel system at the Dunkirk airport.

To pay for the removal, the legislature agreed to use use the unspent budgeted funds for the new fuel farm, which was around $91,000. In committee meetings last week, lawmakers said the cost is expected to range between $31,000 to $45,000.

According to contract, the removal of the in-ground fuel system was supposed to be done by Dunkirk Aviation, however that company is now refusing to pay, saying they do not have the money.

Legislator Robert Bankoski, D-Dunkirk, expressed his displeasure of Dunkirk Aviation backing out of the deal. “I would just like to state my displeasure with the whole situation. I’ve always felt that Chautauqua County has always been trying to help out Dunkirk Aviation, the whole time they’ve been the manager of the airport. Now to have them back out on their part of the deal, it’s very sad and disappointing,” he said.

The resolution does permit the county law department to take “all necessary steps to seek reimbursement” from Dunkirk Aviation.

The county also accepted a number of grants, including a grant to help improve and market the Chautauqua Area Rural Transit System, a grant to benefit the Jamestown airport, a grant to help cover lost revenue by CARTS, and a grant to benefit the Sheriff’s Office.

At the end of the meeting, Legislator Lisa Vanstrom, R-Jamestown, congratulated this year’s senior graduating class. “I fully understand that ceremonies have been compromised by the global pandemic and I wish all of our graduates much success in all of their future endeavors and God bless all of them,” she said.

Legislator Kevin Muldowney, R-Dunkirk, offered congratulations to two long-term assessors who will be retiring: Kevin Okerlund in Jamestown and Thomas Mleczko in Dunkirk. He also went on to applaud Molly Gainey, the long-time assessor clerk in Dunkirk, who is retiring Friday after 51 years. “She served under 15 mayors. When you called in to see who owned the property, she could not only tell you who that was but also the two previous owners,” he said. “She will be truly missed and is a true public servant.”

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