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Madison County: Spitzer collapse has local impact

Albany isn't the only city reeling from the recent turn of events in the state capital. Local political leaders report their worlds have been turned upside down, as well. As of press time, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, recently alleged to be involved as a customer in a prostitution ring, is expected to be replaced by Lt. Gov. David Paterson Monday.

The allegations, coming just weeks before the state is supposed to have its budget in place, leave local legislators wondering about the state of local budgets and projects pitched to the administration during the first three months of this year.

In Sullivan, Supervisor John M. Becker, who also chairs the Madison County Board of Supervisors, said the sudden turnover could be disastrous for the Bridgeport Sewer Initiative, a $15 million project proposed to install sewers along the south shore of Oneida Lake and throughout Bridgeport.

"We went to Albany and presented this project," Becker said. "We asked for $4 million and hoped for at least $1 million of that request. Now, it's anyone's guess."

Becker said he will travel to Albany this week to re-pitch the project, as the town is trying to get the cost per unit for families down and get the construction completed before expenses become insurmountable.

"If it doesn't go this time, it's not going to go at all," Becker said of the project, which was voted down by residents many years ago when it would have been a fraction of today's costs.

If sewers fail and begin to contaminate the lake at some point down the road, the state Department of Environmental Conservation could issue a Consent Order on the town, forcing them to build the project at any cost.

Neighboring Canastota is facing that reality now.

Becker said he also questioned whether Spitzer's proposed $1 billion Upstate Revitalization Plan would be supported by the incoming administration and hopes to get more information this week during his Albany visit.

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