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BOARD OKS NIMO SETTLEMENT FOR OVERBILLING

The Town of Tonawanda will receive an $87,000 settlement from Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. for inaccuracies in streetlight billing over the past six years.

The Tonawanda Town Board voted Monday to accept the settlement, which was negotiated between Niagara Mohawk, the state Public Service Commission and the town's consultants.

Tonawanda is the latest of dozens of communities in upstate New York to settle with the power company for over- and underbilling of streetlighting.

An $800,000 settlement approved last year for 20 communities included $431,000 for Amherst, $95,167 for Lackawanna and $30,501 for Grand Island.

Tonawanda leases its streetlighting equipment -- bulbs, glass, poles, foundations and wires -- from Niagara Mohawk, said Robert M. Morris, the town's director of technical support.

The town pays the power company to service and maintain its street lights.

Niagara Mohawk's bills to the town weren't accurate because changes made to the town's lighting inventory weren't reflected in the company's accounting records, the company's spokesman, Stephen Brady, said.

The company was billing the town for the wrong amount of lighting equipment, Brady said.

The town will receive $87,809 in the settlement but will pay its consultants, Troy and Banks of Amherst, 40 percent of that total, Morris said.

The town used outside experts to evaluate its electric bills because the bills and the way the bills are calculated are so complicated, Morris said.

The town reviews its electric, gas and phone bills every six years to ensure accurate billing, he said.

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