Allegany County Board seeks state investigation over rural bank closures

Allegany County Board of Legislators meet at Allegany County Fair.

The Allegany County Board of Legislators is requesting that New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature undertake an investigation into closure of bank branches in rural counties such as Allegany.

A quickly-drawn resolution was approved at last week’s board meeting at the Allegany County Fair as State Senators George Borrello and Thomas O’Mara, along with Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, watched the proceedings from the platform with county leaders. O’Mara is seeking re-election in a new district which will include the eastern portion of Allegany County, while the other two legislators have been representing the county this year.

The action bemoaned the closure of several community bank branches in Allegany County, apparently focusing on Community Bank which has announced more bank closures this summer after acquiring Steuben Trust two years ago.

The Legislature noted that although a growing number of banking consumers are adopting online and mobile banking, “many rural counties are unable to provide their consumers access to broadband internet and cellular phone service that is sufficient, reliable, or affordable, creating a roadblock to banking activities ….”

It also said that elimination of bank branches in rural counties is a loss to the affected communities, and can lead to frustration and disruption within those areas, particularly noting the negative impacts on small businesses, seniors and those lacking consistent and reliable transportation.

With facilities such as Community Bank being federally regulated and not coming under state jurisdiction, Board Chairman Philip Stockin of Houghton told Allegany Hope over the weekend that there was conversation after the meeting to also send the resolution “further up the government ladder.”