DANSVILLE — Livingston County officials and local officials gathered at the North Dansville Town Hall to talk about various topics Monday night as the latest in a series of "Conversations with the County" events.

The talks highlight county government, county news, positive ideas, and the Downtown Revitalization Grant, but a major point of concern Monday was the recent announcement that the Livingston County Correctional Facility has been slated for closure. 

Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle said this came as a shock to everyone on a Friday afternoon through a press release. He has sent out a FOIL request to NY DOCCS for more information on why this is happening, and what will happen to those impacted by this choice.

“One of our largest employers the Livingston County Prison is closing in September. The whole process is not good. The state normally does their budget in September to December,” Coyle said. “Governor Cuomo authorized on his own to close two or three state prisons within a 90 day notice. This is the first year he is allowed to do that. We got the strike on Friday through a press release.”

Coyle added there are 327 employees at the prison that rely on that place for a paycheck. This is going to be a huge impact on the local economy.

“We now have these men and women who have to look for work elsewhere, and may be sent across the street to Groveland Correctional. They may be sent to Elmira or Albion. The NY DOCCS might send them to Catskills, and they have to relocate their family,” he said. “You have hundreds of people who are pension-owning wage earners that are deeply impacted by this decision.”

Coyle said a contract had been made for $8.5 million for a new water project, and $2.5 million had recently been invested in a new roof project for the building. The prison can had almost reached its maximum capacity of inmates. It is currently 90 percent full.

Now there are talks of making a juvenile housing complex across the street from the prison in one of the other buildings.

There have been talks of turning the Livingston County Prison into the next FBI Immigration Center since the one in Batavia is overcrowded. Right now the Livingston County Jail is holding 55 federal inmates.

In other topics, Coyle explained the various things the county is responsible for when it comes to certain government functions. The Sheriff’s Department, Highway Department, Mount Morris Nursing Home, Early Intervention Program, Public Defense, Welfare and Temporary Assistance, Medicaid, Public Health, Hospice, Office For the Aging, and Meals on Wheels are just some of the things the county covers. There are 32 departments, and a $160 million budget to run the county. This offers many jobs for those who live within the county as well.

“We need to decide what to run, how much it costs, how to staff, and what we get back. There is a gap that comes from two sources, which is sales and property taxes. When you purchase something at eight percent sales tax the county gets four percent of that tax,” he said. "The largest source of that income for us is car sales, gas, and restaurants. There is a county tax cap that we have stayed under for seven years. We have never busted the tax cap. We have the best fiscal score in the entire region. We are very well managed.”

Finally there was talk of the Downtown Revitalization Grant, and how Dansville could be the lucky winner this year. It has been a finalist in all three years. This grant offers $10 million to revitalize downtown. The first year winner was Geneva, second year winner was Batavia, and third year winner was Penn Yan. Dansville needs to submit the application by May 31 to qualify for this year’s grant.

Bill Bacon, Livingston County Economic director, said once the award is given they throw the previous application out and everything starts over again.

“We try to be general in the application process. We focus on the workforce, parking, art, quality of life, buildings, and such. We are fortunate to be a finalist again,” he said. “We want to look into what attracts folks to the community. We have tourism initiatives, and public art to attract visitors. We want to see buildings get redeveloped.”

Right now everything is just in the beginning stages, but if Dansville wins the $10 million award it would mean a major improvement to the community.