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The City Council Monday night unanimously agreed to a new sales tax agreement with Genesee County that could enrich city coffers by at least $50 million over the next 40 years.

That is, if the city has an attorney who can certify the Council's action to state officials, who must approve the change.

The unusual situation arose when the Council, during its organizational meeting earlier this month, failed to appoint a city attorney. Kevin D. Earl, who has held the post for the last six years, was recommended for reappointment to a two-year term by City Manager Robert L. Knable.

The Council, however, tabled the reappointment after a closed-session debate about the $67,500 salary for the part-time post and the possibility of less-expensive options. Earl reminded the Council Monday that Batavia thus far has no city attorney, who by law must ratify the Council's actions.

Now, the Council faces a Feb. 1 deadline from the state comptroller's office to certify the new tax agreement so that it can go into effect at the March 1 start of a new quarter for collections.

The agreement would increase city sales tax revenues from $3.5 million in 1999 to an estimated $4.7 million, an increase of one-third. It would extend for 40 years.

The Council is expected to meet the state deadline through a special meeting later this week. Earl could be reappointed, or some other temporary legal arrangement could be made.

The 20-year-old city-county sales tax agreement limited the city to levies collected on purchases within city limits. The new pact would give the city 16 percent of sales tax revenues from throughout the county. In return, the county would share in city collections.

Half of the 8 percent tax goes to the state. The balance has been shared by the city, the county and 13 towns.

In another lingering controversy, the Council rejected, by a 6-2 vote, a request by the Genesee County ARC Chapter to develop a four-person home for the developmentally disabled on Garfield Avenue. Fifth Ward Council Member Kathleen Briggs said that all 43 property owners in the area provided signatures in opposition to the facility.

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