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BOARD OKS $1-MILLION ANNUAL SPA PAYMENT DEAL

The Niagara-Wheatfield School Board accepted a deal Wednesday that would give the district nearly $1 million annually for the next 50 years.

The board voted unanimously to accept its share of the $1 billion offer to the Niagara Power Coalition in exchange for relicensing the State Power Authority's Niagara Power Project .

School Business Executive Kerin Dumphrey said Niagara-Wheatfield would get about 12 percent of the deal every year. The first installment is a one-time payment of $960,000 that is expected in 2005.

Beginning in 2007, the district is expected to receive a yearly payment of $600,000 that has no strings attached. A second annual payment of $360,000 would be earmarked for recreational and sports facilities.

In addition, the district is set to receive 25 megawatts of electrical power a year, which should result in about $400,000 in savings, he said.

Dumphrey said the coalition has been working on the pact for at least 10 years. Niagara-Wheatfield hired an outside attorney and auditor experienced in relicensing negotiations to help with its end of the deal.

"This should have happened 50 years ago," Dumphrey commented after the meeting. "At last we're benefiting from this project that's been sitting in our back yard --justice at last."

The majority of the money is expected to be used for stabilizing the tax rate, he noted.

In another matter, the board said it would interview four candidates Nov. 17 who are interested in filling a board vacancy. Board President Michael Murawski said the interviews would take place before the 8:30 p.m. board meeting in Errick Road School.

The board is seeking a replacement for Carol Scholl. The replacement would serve the remaining part of her term, which expires in 2005.

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