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Grant bid OK'd for N. Tonawanda dispatch transfer

The Niagara County Legislature voted Tuesday to approve a grant application to fund the transfer of North Tonawanda police dispatching to the Sheriff's Office.

The actual contract making the transfer is to come before the Legislature next month, but the $400,000 consolidation grant application was due in Albany today.

County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said six civilian dispatchers are to be transferred to the county payroll as of July 1.

However, the contract calls for North Tonawanda to continue paying 100 percent of their salaries and benefits this year and in 2013. That's about $235,000 for six months and about $450,000 for a full year.

"Our health insurance is cheaper than theirs," Glatz explained. That means North Tonawanda will see some savings at once, and that savings will gradually grow.

The city's share would be 75 percent in 2014, 50 percent in 2015 and 25 percent in 2016. After that, the employees would be fully on the county's ledger.

While the county-city contract is in force, "they can't be laid off," Glatz said.

"This is exactly the type of action the state is recommending to consolidate services and conserve scarce fiscal resources," said Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda.

The county has been dispatching North Tonawanda Fire Department calls for the last several years.

The six transferred dispatchers will receive two weeks of training on county procedures and equipment. Glatz said they will join the regular Sheriff's Office dispatching pool and will dispatch all calls, not just North Tonawanda incidents.

Glatz said the county has been talking with officials in Lockport for a year about taking over its dispatching. That would not add personnel to the county payroll, since Lockport doesn't use civilian dispatchers; uniformed officers are assigned to radio duty each shift. "Niagara Falls has shown no interest," Glatz said.

In other matters, the Legislature approved the terms of a revised payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the new owners of the former AES Corp. power plant in Somerset.

The terms, approved Monday by the Somerset Town Board and the Barker Board of Education, will reduce the power plant's tax costs by nearly two-thirds by 2015. The county Industrial Development Agency will start the process of implementing the agreement today.

The plant paid $14.3 million to the county, town and school this year. Next year, the payment will be just under $10.5 million; in 2014, $6.7 million; and in 2015, $5.12 million.

The school takes 59.25 percent of the total, the county 31.5 percent and the town 9.25 percent.

Before Tuesday's vote, the amounts to be paid to each taxing entity were recalculated.

The school district's portion will be $7.58 million in the next academic year. It will receive $4.55 million in 2013-14 and $3.03 million in 2014-15.

The county will receive $2.5 million in 2013, $1.66 million in 2015 and $1.61 million in 2015.

The town's share will be $741,312 in 2013, $489,056 in 2014, and $473,600 in 2015.