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HEARING SCHEDULED APRIL 4
ON POWER PLANT TAX DEAL

A public hearing on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the NRG electric generating station will be held at 7 p.m. April 4 in Dunkirk High School on West Sixth Street.

The board of directors of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency set the date at a special meeting Friday.

No details of the agreement were made public at the meeting.

Richard Alexander, administrative director of the agency, was authorized to write to the city, school district and county with the details of the agreement. Alexander said the text of the agreement will be published as part of a public notice at least 30 days before the hearing.

The plant pays more than $8 million per year in property taxes as part of a court settlement with Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., its former owner. That settlement will expire Dec. 31. NRG, the current owner, wants an agreement reducing the amount paid to the three governments. Action must be taken by May 1.

During the public comment session of the meeting Friday, County Legislator Chester Tarnowski, D-Dunkirk, said that the company is very profitable.

"A reduction is a burden on the taxpayers. We don't want to see the plant leave. We want to keep the jobs," he said.

"We need to see some compromise. The company needs $50 million for upgrading," he said. "If you can get money for the state (to make up the shortfall in revenue), God bless you."

Karen Harvey of Mayville read a prepared statement that suggested the development agency use its power of eminent domain to acquire the plant. Then the plant could be operated under public ownership and provide low-cost power.

"Dunkirk could experience an economic renaissance if, with the county, it went the route of public ownership," she said.

She opposed the tax cut.

"Appealing to state and federal agencies for more public tax dollars to relieve Dunkirk after the IDA has cut taxes for a major corporation and increased taxes for Dunkirk homeowners (and renters, whose rates will increase) is a cruel joke," her statement said.

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