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CITY SEEKS HELP IN TAX RELIEF FOR NRG

The City of Dunkirk is appealing for both state and federal help in negotiating tax relief for the NRG generating station.

The plant currently pays total annual taxes of about $8 million to the city, Chautauqua County and the city school district.

This amount was established in the settlement of a tax-assessment suit brought by Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., the plant's previous owner. However, the terms of this settlement expire Dec. 31. NRG, the Minnesota-based energy company, wants to be taxed as a manufacturing facility, not a utility.

Mayor Robert Kesicki said during a meeting of the Common Council on Tuesday night that the company also is required to purchase new equipment to meet stricter environmental standards.

"The company wants relief and is looking for tax relief," said Kesicki, who added also that "the city is looking for compensation from the state for loss of tax revenue" from the generating facility.

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency is the lead agency in negotiating the new payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement.

In other matters, the Council:

Confirmed Norman Nalepa as the director of public works. Nalepa, who has been working in the job since Jan. 23, is a former councilman at large.

Nalepa addressed the challenges he faces.

"I am looking for the cooperation of the division chiefs and employees," he said. "We also have equipment issues, including (garbage) packers. Road and drainage projects will be the No. 1 priorities in the spring."

Tabled a resolution to purchase a new fire chief's car under a state contract. Nalepa said the current car, recently repaired in-house, required $600 in new parts.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Janet Jankowski George proposed creating a task force to look into the needs of the Fire Department and come up with a "list of priorities." She pointed to the leaking water tank on Engine 4, a new roof at Daniel Anson Hose Company No. 3 on Middle Road, high energy costs and new standards for turnout gear mandated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

First Ward Councilman ChetKozlowski said he would not vote for any equipment before garbage packers are purchased.

Second Ward Councilman James Muscato and Third Ward Councilman Paul Van Den Vouver were in favor of the purchase.

Approved laws amending the procedure for filling vacancies on the Council. Under the change, the appointment is to be made by the Council, with the appointee serving the remainder of the unexpired term until the next general election. The appointee also will be of the same political party as the person who was elected to the post.

Awarded annual grants to the city's nonprofit groups:

Access to the Arts, for Adams Art Gallery, $3,500; Historical Society of Dunkirk, $12,500; Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum, $5,000; Dunkirk Free Library, $162,000; Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 142, $1,000; Dunkirk Joint Veterans, $2,500 and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chautauqua County Chapter 459, $1,000.

All grants were the same as last year.

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