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North Tonawanda Mayor Elizabeth C. Hoffman Tuesday night said she opposes any county-sponsored tax abatement for an energy co-generation plant proposed by the Oxbow Power Corp.

Instead, Oxbow, the West Palm Beach, Fla., concern that wants to build a $64 million, 54-megawatt, gas-fired electric and steam co-generation plant in the city, should apply to the state for tax relief, the mayor said.

Mayor Hoffman said she also is opposed to any breaks on city water or sewer taxes.

Independent of the county and its Industrial Development Agency, the state can grant Oxbow a 10-year tax abatement as an inducement to build its plant in North Tonawanda, the mayor said. City Assessor Brian M. Hess said the state tax abatement plan provides a 50 percent county, city and school tax break in the first year and decreases 5 percent a year.

"The city would be financially better off under that (state) plan than with a county IDA-approved 10-year abatement" with payments in lieu of taxes, the mayor said.

Mayor Hoffman's support of the Oxbow project has been tempered by reports she is receiving from Albany that the state intends to reduce revenue-sharing to municipalities by 10 percent and aid for street and highway improvements by 7 percent.

At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Kathleen J. Cochran, speaking on behalf of the Concerned Taxpayers of North Tonawanda of which she is a director, said that existing tax abatements without payments in lieu of taxes already are bleeding other taxpayers in the city.

In an 11-point letter from the Council Committee of the taxpayers group also signed by directors Wesley F. Less and Raymond Stanley, the organization accused city officials, principally the mayor, of a lack of diligence in protecting taxpayers' interests in private negotiating sessions with Oxbow officials.

Mayor Hoffman labeled those accusations "untrue."

The mayor, Council President Thomas B. Jaccarino and county IDA Executive Director Leo J. Nowak Jr. were scheduled to meet today to discuss the Oxbow application.

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