MAYVILLE - Chautauqua Lake may get some county taxpayer help to battle its growing weed problem.
Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, said earlier this week she plans to file a resolution with the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee that calls for a $100,000 appropriation payment to the Chautauqua Lake Association.
Cornell said the funding would come from recent reconciliations in the county's 2011 budget, which is expected to boost the county's fund balance by over $10 million.
"That money belongs to the taxpayers," the Democrat said in a news release last week. "What better way to return the taxpayers than through an investment in our county's economic future?"
The legislature last month passed a resolution to allocate $1.4 million from the county's fund balance to match a federal grant for the County Home. Legislators sought the grant after the $10 million surplus was announced.
Chris Yates, CLA president, said the additional funding would go a long way this harvesting season - which is currently underway.
Weed growth this year has exploded with a mild winter and low rainfall. And with low lake levels, officials have expressed concern regarding the amount of aquatic vegetation and lack of funds.
Yates noted that during their "peak funding levels" from the county and state, the CLA received over $100,000 for harvesting operations; the CLA currently receives $50,000 for the yearly task.
"I'm aware of her plan," Yates said Monday of Cornell's pending resolution. "I'm encouraged she is seeking the reinstatement of that funding, especially with the financial situation the county is in."
"But I also feel it is important," he continued. "We only launched half of our fleet. What we're facing right now, additional funding would get more staffing on the lake."
Yates said he was contacted in March by county officials who asked him what additional funding would do for Chautauqua Lake.
He said an appropriation of $100,000 would allow the CLA to employ two additional weed harvesting machines, a transport barge, a cleanup barge and a small dump truck.
"We were very specific," Yates said.
In the meantime, the CLA has utilized volunteers from Cummins Engine and workers from the county Department of Social Services - the latter of which through the county's Welfare-to-Work program.
Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, said he has had discussions with Cornell regarding lake funding. He said he pointed her to the Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan for recommendations for in-lake operations.
"As long as it is reasonable based on cost-benefit, I would support it," Diers said of the funding.