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LEGISLATURE MEETS MONDAY ON INDUCON

A special meeting of the Niagara County Legislature is expected to be called for 8 p.m. Monday to vote on transferring Inducon Industrial Park to the county Industrial Development Agency.

Also up for discussion that night, according to Legislature Chairman Gerald E. Meal, will be the county's response to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's request for proposals for outside operators to take over Niagara Falls International Airport. The IDA has spearheaded that effort as well.

The Inducon deal was to have been a late addition to Tuesday's agenda, but it was withdrawn after prolonged party caucuses. IDA Executive Director John R. Simon, IDA attorney Ralph A. Boniello III, and county GOP chairman John Long sat in on the Republican caucus.

Afterward, Simon said the reason for the delay was that "not all the legislators had a chance to review the agreement. . . . From the IDA's standpoint, the county has had it for some time. We have a final draft. We could still tweak it this week."

Majority Leader Shirley G. Urtel, R-Cambria, said some lawmakers have questions about why the county has had to pay the costs of a bond issue the Town of Wheatfield floated several years to pay for infrastructure at the 151-acre Lockport Road site.

The former owners, 2400 Lockport Inc., failed to pay the special assessments for those bonds, along with eight years' worth of county, school, and town taxes. The county foreclosed. After no bids were received at last month's foreclosure auction, the county and IDA appear poised to make their own deal.

Simon maintains that state law requires the county to pay off special assessments of municipalities if property owners don't pay. He said the bonds have 12 years to run, with an outstanding principal of $2,047,000.

Under his proposal, the IDA would sell lots to businesses and give the county two-thirds of the purchase price for lots in the front half of the industrial park, closer to Lockport Road. For lots in the back half, the county would get one-third of the price.

In addition, the county would receive 2.5 percent of the payments in lieu of taxes that companies receiving IDA assistance in the park would be making.

He said his goal is to eventually have the county make back the nearly $4 million in back taxes the former owners left unpaid.

The IDA is still trying to sign up those businesses. Simon said, The county's participation in the airport bidding must be settled next week, since Sept. 30 is the NFTA's deadline for receiving bids.

The IDA has plans to join forces with a private airport operation firm to make a bid. However, action by the IDA board is also required. It also has called a special meeting for Monday.

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