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Waddington nets St. Lawrence County funding for Bassmaster event

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By MARTHA ELLEN

CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators agreed Monday to give the village of Waddington $30,000 toward a Bassmaster event, but at least one legislator plans to change his vote for the full board meeting after hearing a presentation on the poor state of the county’s finances.

Assistance for such events should be coming from the county Chamber of Commerce for municipalities who do the work to build tourism, said Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, who unsuccessfully also tried to have the county provide the Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce with $3,000 for a state B.A.S.S. chapter federation tournament.

In budget deliberations later this year, Mr. Burns said he wanted to take a serious look at the county giving more to local groups that promote tourism rather than the county chamber, which received $180,000 in this year’s budget.

Last year, the county provided $75,000 for the Bassmaster Elite Series event, which attracted more than 34,000 people. This year’s request of $30,000 is for a Northeastern divisional series event.

While legislators generally liked the work Waddington does to boost the national ranking of the county as a fishing destination, many struggled to keep the money flowing.

“I’m not going to be able to support doling out money,” Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said.

Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, said his constituents are not in favor. “I know they think we can’t afford it,” he said. “I know sometimes you have to spend money to make money, but it’s hard to convince people of that. I think the onus is on you to raise that money.”

Legislator Donald A. Peck, D-Gouverneur, said he feared setting a precedent.

“The $75,000 was a one-time thing,” he said. “They’re both a great cause but there’s got to be some hard choices made.”

At the same meeting, legislators agreed to pay up to $10,000 for a study on the effects of changing the workers’ compensation formula, increased money for the Sheriff’s Office by $75,000 because of higher costs for prisoner hospitalizations and spent more than $12,000 for an air-conditioning upgrade in Public Health for vaccine protection.

Legislators went through a series of motions and amendments regarding the fishing tournaments, finally rejecting funding for Ogdensburg’s request and failing to cut to $15,000 the amount for Waddington. A motion to table the vote for $30,000 failed.

Voting against giving Waddington the money were legislators Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon; Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, Daniel F. Parker, R-Potsdam, Mr. Lightfoot, Mr. Peck, and Mr. Acres. Legislator Jim A. Bunstone, D-Potsdam, was absent.

After the vote, Mr. Morrill led a discussion on the county’s challenges to adhere to a five-year plan that would keep the tax levy increase at no more than 2 percent.

“We shouldn’t have spent the $30,000,” Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon said afterward. “My vote is changed.”

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