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Will interim get top job?

The New York State Fair set a new all-time attendance record and more projects are in the works. But as planning begins for 2018, one question looms: Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo make Troy Waffner the permanent fair director?

Waffner has served as acting fair director since 2013. He took over after Thomas Ryan resigned from the role. A search committee formed in late 2013 to identify candidates and nearly 60 people applied for the job, but a permanent director hasn't been named.

As acting director, Waffner has provided stability to the leadership structure at the fair. Ryan left the job after eight months. His other predecessors, Peter Cappuccilli and Dan O'Hara, were subjects of separate investigations by the state inspector general's office.

Waffner has been at the helm for major projects at the fairgrounds, including the state's $50 million investment that resulted in an expanded midway, new main gate and other improvements. Another $70 million investment is planned, most of which will be used to construct a new 133,000-square-foot expo center prior to the 2018 fair.

But Waffner's biggest achievement is the attendance records over the last two years. In 2016, the fair drew 1,117,630 visitors. That broke the previous mark of 1,011,248 in 2001.

After the record turnout in 2016, state officials decided to expand to a 13-day schedule beginning this year. The extra day paid off. The fair's attendance was 1,161,192, a new all-time high.

The back-to-back records would seem to help Waffner if he wishes to become the permanent fair director, but there's no indication Gov. Andrew Cuomo will appoint him to the top job.

"What I've heard is people higher than I am are pleased with the outcome of the fair. They're pleased with the attendance. They're pleased with the feedback," Waffner said in a phone interview Wednesday. "In terms of me personally, I haven't heard anything. But I'm not that concerned about it either."

There was speculation before this year's fair that Dan Queri, a central New York developer, would be named fair director. However, that is no longer the plan. Waffner continued as acting director during the fair and is already looking ahead to the 2018 fair.

He said that the fair has already booked two Chevy Court concerts for 2018 and will review feedback from this year's event to make improvements next year.

"I truly love the fair. I think it gets into your blood and you either love it or hate it, and I love it ... Whether they call me director, assistant director or something else, I'll be here for as long as they have me," Waffner said.

The governor's office was contacted for this story. The request was redirected to Dave Bullard, the fair's spokesman.

In a statement, Bullard said Waffner will continue serving as acting director.

"The search is ongoing, but at present, there are no outside candidates under consideration for the job of state director," he said. ​

Lattimore Hall sold; Cayuga Community College expects relationship will remain the same

Lattimore Hall has been sold, but Cayuga Community College does not anticipate the sale will change anything about the college's relationship with the independent student housing complex.

Prior owner Lattimore Hall LLC, of Syracuse, sold the building at 81 Genesee St., Auburn, to WCBB Holdings LLC on Aug. 15.

The sale price was $3,803,000; the property's market value is $2,500,000, according to Cayuga County property records. It was built in March 1998.

According to the Department of State, WCBB Holdings is registered in the Rochester suburb of Fairport. It declined comment about its purchase through its broker, Hemisphere Holdings Corp.

However, the college's vice president of student affairs, Jeff Rosenthal said Wednesday that he has met with Lattimore Hall's new owner, and he "seemed genuinely interested in continuing a very positive and mutually beneficial relationship." The new owner met with the college to find out more about it and its relationship with Lattimore Hall, Rosenthal said.

"The prior owners were tremendous partners with the college, and we hope and expect the new owner will be equally as helpful in supporting Cayuga Community College students," Rosenthal said.

The hall, which has 97 beds on five floors of suite-style housing, is independently managed and does not generate revenue for the college, Rosenthal said. But through its relationship with the college, he continued, the hall receives a portion of its student residents' financial aid payout. During summer breaks, the hall is used as housing for Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival performers and crew.

The college also works with the hall's manager and resident assistants to enforce the college's code of conduct, Rosenthal said. All residents there are assigned student success advocates whose responsibility it is to directly support their residents if they have questions or concerns. The program, which is a few years old, has seen increasing student engagement, Rosenthal said.

Riverbend Coffee and a student lounge area sit on the hall's ground floor.

Why Cayuga County doesn't get cut of del Lago Resort & Casino's revenue

Del Lago Resort & Casino is mere minutes away from the Cayuga County line. Many of the Seneca County gaming facility's employees reside in Cayuga County. And there's a fair number of patrons from Cayuga County who visit the resort, which is 16 miles away from downtown Auburn. 

Despite the county's close proximity to del Lago, it does not receive a share of the casino's pre-tax revenue. The reason for that is a 2013 agreement between the state and Oneida Indian Nation. 

More than four years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter announced a landmark pact between the state and tribe. An important piece of that agreement was the establishment of an exclusive gaming zone for the Oneidas in central New York. 

The zone is comprised of Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and Otsego counties. 

In exchange for the exclusive zone, the tribe agreed to pay the state 25 percent of its slot machine revenue. Madison and Oneida counties receive the biggest share as host municipalities. The other eight counties, including Cayuga, receive a smaller percentage of the funds. 

Since 2014, Cayuga County has received more than $1.6 million in payments from the state Gaming Commission, according to the state comptroller's Open Book New York database. These payments stem from the county's inclusion in the Oneidas' gaming territory. 

This year, Cayuga County has received three payments totaling $378,546.51. The most recent payment — $132,783.86 — was made Aug. 1. 

Del Lago, which opened Feb. 1 in the town of Tyre, operates in the Eastern Southern Tier region established by the state Gaming Commission. The territory covers all of Broome, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins counties and portions of Chemung, Schuyler and Wayne counties. 

The casino pays a 37 percent tax on its slot machine revenue and 10 percent on its table game revenue. The state keeps 80 percent of the funds for "education and property tax relief." Seneca County and the town of Tyre, the designated host municipalities, split 10 percent. The remaining 10 percent of revenue is distributed to Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Tompkins and Wayne counties. 

Tioga County doesn't receive a share of del Lago's revenue because it's the host community for Tioga Downs Casino. Once that casino project was granted a gaming license, the county was deemed ineligible to receive a portion of del Lago's tax payments. 

Since del Lago opened in February, the municipalities in the Eastern Southern Tier gaming region have each received two payments for their share of the casino's slot machine and table game revenue. 

Through the first two quarters of 2017, the revenue shared by del Lago with state and local municipalities totals more than $18.6 million. 

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Opening day at del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre last February.

Multiple construction projects to come before Auburn City Council Thursday

The Auburn City Council is expected to vote on a host of construction-related resolutions during this week's city council meeting.

The council will decide Thursday whether or not to authorize change orders for additional work for the annual road and sidewalk programs.

The city's Engineering Services department is requesting an additional $552,000 to finish out the 2016 Road Program, which was awarded to F. Rizzo Construction, Inc. for $1,032,295 in 2016. According to this week's Auburn City Council agenda, the additional funds will go toward repairs to the following streets and city properties: 

• Allen Street from 21 Allen St. to 5500 Technology Park Blvd., including sewer replacement;

• Metcalf Drive, including sewer repair;

• Lower Pump Station;

• St. Francis Park improvements, including site paving, concrete and drainage improvements;

• Janet Street from Tuxill Square to Logan Street, including sewer repair.

The engineering department is also asking the council to approve an approximately $156,000 change order for the 2017 Road Program so contractors can enlarge the existing Court Street parking lot. The city has been discussing plans to expand the lot as a way to compensate from the parking that will be lost once the Cultural Heritage Welcome Center is constructed.  

The council originally awarded the construction contract to Paul F. Vitale, Inc. for around $1.275 million. Part of the constriction company's bid also included an alternate bid for the parking lot work, for $156,380.  

Additionally, the department wants to give an additional $30,639 to Concrete Slipform Inc. so the construction company can complete additional sidewalk work and install concrete pads at Casey Park as part of the 2017 Community Development Block Grant Sidewalk Replacement Program. 

The city was given a $172,000 grant from the state for this year's repairs and Concrete Slipform won the bid for the original work for $147,420. 

Engineering Services Superintendent Bill Lupien said in an August interview with The Citizen than the following areas will see sidewalk construction beginning in mid-September:

• Perrine Street from North Division Street to Pulaski Street, north side

• State Street from York Street to Pulaski Street, east side

• State Street from Pulaski Street to Perrine Street, east side

• Perrine Street from railroad tracks to North Street, both sides

Finally, Lupien is requesting the council authorize a transfer of additional money for both the North Hunter Brook Bridge Replacement and North Division Street Dam Hydro Facility projects.   

The entire Auburn City Council agenda can be found online at