The governor's office will not pay for Freeport officials' recent trips to China and Germany, a spokeswoman for the governor said, contradicting recent statements by Mayor Andrew Hardwick.
At village board meetings, when asked how the trips would be paid for, Hardwick had cited a September letter from Gov. David A. Paterson "affirming my commitment" to grant Freeport $25,000 "to support the ongoing and growing economic development relationship between the State of New York and our friends in China."
A spokeswoman for Paterson confirmed last week that the $25,000 grant would not be paid. The spokeswoman, Maggie McKeon, would not discuss the reasons for the change. Her statement came after state Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) asked Paterson's office whether Freeport would get the travel funding.
Hardwick did not respond to requests for comment last week.
In a question-and-answer document posted to the village Web site Monday, Hardwick said the state agreed to pay more than $60,000 "for the associated costs, not including travel and lodging." He said the village spent $7,460 for travel and lodging.
In October, Hardwick and a consultant to the village went to China with a delegation of state legislators and business people on a nine-day trip led by the Asian-American Business Development Center.
In February, village officials flew to Germany to tour waste-to-energy plants built by ZhongDe Waste Technology. The company has proposed a waste-to-energy facility in Freeport, which was described in a March letter to Fuschillo from business development center president John Wang as "in the early planning stages."
The letter stated that the business center's affiliate in Beijing had introduced the incinerator project. It invited Fuschillo on a June trade mission to China, where a "highlight of the trip will be the signing of a memorandum of understanding between ZhongDe Waste Technology and the city of Freeport, Long Island" for the proposed waste-to-energy project.
Village Attorney Howard Colton said the village is not participating in any trip to China in June and there is no such memorandum of understanding. According to Colton, Paterson's office has not notified village officials that $25,000 grant won't be made.
Fuschillo, who declined to attend the June 22-July 1 trade mission, said he asked Paterson's office about the funding after Freeport resident Patricia Rowen asked him whether state funds were going to pay for the trips.
Rowen helped organize protests by Freeport and Merrick residents against construction of a waste-to-energy incinerator, including a demonstration with about two dozen people on Friday across from the Garden City Hotel, where Hardwick hosted a fundraiser.
Village trustee Jorge Martinez, who has sent Hardwick memos requesting information about the trips, said the mayor needs to clarify how the village will get reimbursed for the travel.
"He has stated in public that both the China trip and the trip to Germany are being reimbursed by New York State," Martinez said. "The mayor has to come out and tell us who is paying for these trips."