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A plan to cut taxes by 9 percent, and an expected $500,000 payment of a 20-year-old debt from the federal government, were unveiled Thursday by Supervisor Timothy E. Demler.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency owes the town an estimated $500,000 and is expected to pay up this spring, Demler said. He said he couldn't say much about the funds because of pending litigation, but they are related to the installation of sewers in the town in the late 1970s and into the '80s.

The federal money, which has been given to the state for disbursement, is sewer funding the town never sought, he said.

"Since we did the work ourselves and paid for it, we should be able to get the money back and put it into the general fund," Demler said. He said he has been working with a Washington, D.C., law firm for 3 1/2 years to get the money.

Because the money would go to the general fund, at least some of that windfall would go toward the construction of a community center, for which the board has budgeted $100,000 in the 2000 budget.

Demler said he expected to break ground on that project this summer.

As his inauguration to a third term nears, Demler said he would continue to work toward greater tax relief to total as much as 30 percent.

"People have asked me: 'How can we continue to cut taxes, improve services and build the community center? Will something have to give?' " Demler said. "My answer to that is 'no.' Good government begets good results. If we continue the current policies for the next six years, regardless of who is supervisor or councilmen, Wheatfield will experience continued tax relief and business growth."

He pointed to an industrial and residential tax base that has increased more than $35 million and a surplus that has grown to $2.4 million in the past four years.

His plan is to continue programs in 2000 and call for a reduction of 1.5 percent a year in all town and special district taxes. After six years, the total tax reduction would amount to 30 percent since he took office in 1996.

The second phase of the plan aims for a minimum increase to the tax base of $60 million over the next six years.

Former Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Thomas C. Zwelling has been named head constable. Demler said he looked forward to having someone with Zwelling's experience and knowledge lead the department and provide training.

Constable Robert Connery was promoted to assistant chief.

Gerald Maerten was named town assessor to replace Willis Retzlaff, who retired this year. Maerten, the store manager of KD Supply on Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda, worked as a loan officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Other new appointments include Bill Carr, former sewer superintendent, as fire inspector and Jacque Austin as management consultant to the budget director.

The Town Board will hold its reorganizational meeting Monday.

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