By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The Orleans County Legislature voiced strong opposition to a federal proposal to change the scope of the Clean Water Act, which local officials said was an unnecessary expansion of federal oversight.
At issue is the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ “Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act” draft guidance.
According to the resolution passed by an unanimous vote, legislators are concerned that the draft’s enactment would remove local control from the management of ditches and other water structures not currently covered by the CWA.
”This draft guidance creates uncertainty, confusion and would capture a significant number of public works acitivities and transportation infrastructure projects that would, under the new guidance, be subject to the CWA and its costly and time-consuming permitting and regulatory protocols,” said Legislator Lynne Johnson, who noted that additional costs would be felt by municipalities and farms.
The Legislature and Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Dan Schuth called for federal legislators to intercede to prevent the plan’s implementation.
”The Clean Water Act gave specific duties to the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA ... they wish to expand that authority to all waters,” Schuth said. “This takes away public input. It’s imperatieve this policy is withdrawn.”
• Legislators approved a local law overriding the state’s tax levy limit legislation by a 6-1 margin. The move prevents the county from being penalized in the event that the tax levy rises above the limit set by the state’s calculations.
County Chief Administrative Officer Chuck Nesbitt said Wednesday that the tax levy increase in the county’s preliminary budget is about $75,000 below the estimated levy limit.
While Legislature Chairman David Callard said the move was made only with an “abundance of caution”
“The liars and cheats in Albany blamed legislatures, boards and schools for high property taxes,” Allport, the lone dissenting vote, said. “By passing this (resolution) we are justifying the view that we are problem — we’re not.”
The Legislature set the timeline for the passing of the 2013 budget. A public hearing for the $76 million spending plan is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Orleans County Courthouse. A special meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Dec. 5 to adopt the budget.