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While customers have used less water this year than last year, the Erie County Water Authority is still making some money.

That's a major turnaround from last July, when commissioners raised water rates 8.13 percent to cover an expected shortfall of $1.15 million.

Water Authority commissioners learned Tuesday afternoon that the net income for June was $29,000 and the net income for the first six months of this year is $772,000.

During the first half of last year, the authority posted a loss of $916,000.

"We're doing better because we're controlling costs," Executive Director Robert A. Mendez said.

The net income was realized even as customer usage in the first half of this year was down 4.23 percent compared with the same period in 1996, Budget Director James M. Byron told commissioners.

The commissioners met in the Sturgeon Point Pumping Station Tuesday afternoon and conducted their annual meeting with municipalities following their meeting.

Last year, customers used a little less than 9 billion gallons of water. This year's consumption is about 8.6 billion gallons.

"We can see the effect of the wet, cold weather," Byron said.

Water Authority customers traditionally use less water during cold, rainy weather.

Expenses are running under the budgeted amount by 8.9 percent, and wages and fringe benefits continue to remain under budget, Byron said.

The authority also saved money by purchasing less power due to a decline in production.

Also Tuesday, the commissioners approved a 10-year lease-management agreement with the Town of Amherst, which previously approved the agreement.

The authority also authorized the payment of $180,720 to the Town of Boston for partial payment for the construction of the Crestwood water-storage tank.

The authority and the town agreed that funds to be used to refurbish the Brown Hill tank would be allocated to the construction of a new tank.

Commissioners also authorized paying $44,441 to the Town of Alden as partial payment to upgrade the water line on Walden Avenue to Genesee Street.

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