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Lockport again seeks water line tax break

The effort went nowhere last year, but Niagara County Legislator Harry J. Apolito is making another effort to win property tax relief for the City of Lockport's water supply line.

In August, Legislator Glenn S. Aronow, R-Lockport, introduced such a measure, but in committee two months later, only he voted for it.

Now Apolito, D-Lockport, is trying to get the county to give up about $62,000 in tax revenue the city pays the county on the 10-foot-wide strip of land, 13 miles long, that carries the city's water main from the Niagara River in North Tonawanda, through the towns of Pendleton and Lockport.

Lockport is the only municipality in the county in such a situation.

The others that don't border the river get water from the Niagara County Water District, which has its own pumping plant on the river.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the assessments on the value of the land "have gone up markedly since the last resolution."

"City of Lockport property taxpayers had to pay two property taxes: their regular property tax and the property tax for the water line, which was in their water bills," Apolito argued.

Aronow said his resolution failed, in part, because the city hasn't paid all the money the county says it owes for withdrawing from the county-run workers' compensation insurance pool in 2001.

In 2004, the city, which has contested the county's math, paid the county $219,896, but the county says it owes another $200,000.

Apolito noted that the city isn't the only community with an unsettled workers' compensation claim with the county.

"I hope they won't hold the City of Lockport hostage over that," he said.

"I don't think the money has been paid, so I don't think Harry is likely to do any better [than the previous resolution], Aronow said. "If Harry can persuade the Legislature, I'll support it."

Tucker said his main beef is the assessments increases that North Tonawanda, Pendleton and Town of Lockport assessors have imposed on the strip of land.

"At some point, we might have to go to court," he said. "These are water lines. They don't appreciate."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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