Broome County finally has official approval for its Office of Energy Development, even though it has been in operation for weeks.
The County Legislature voted in favor of it late Thursday. The $200,000 a year budget is being paid through the hotel-motel tax and the Industrial Development Agency.
Chairman of the Legislature, Jerry Marinich, says the office will help the entire county find ways to become more energy efficient. He says people who claim the office is a front for promoting fracking are mistaken. "It's about energy development, it's about getting the information out to businesses. The administration had a course about 7 or 10 days ago for businesses to come in and reduce their energy costs and things like that. They started off with 60 seats, sold out. They went to 85, sold out again. They had to turn businesses away."
Democratic Legislator Jason Garnar wanted to put the idea for an Office of Energy Development to voters. But, that proposal was voted down. Garnar says, "I think if we're going to create a new department for the county, something that I don't think that we've done since the 1980's, I think if we're going to expand government like that then I think it would be important to have a public hearing."
The Office of Energy Development will be re-evaluated in 2 years.