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Cattaraugus County legislators have sent a message to Albany that they support proposed state legislation to reimburse municipalities for lost railroad taxes.

The state is considering a decrease in property taxes paid by railroads and reimbursement to school districts and municipalities of money lost through such a decrease.

Currently, Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Steuben counties would not be included in the state plan because the four counties recently formed the Southern Tier Rail Authority, which has negotiated with Norfolk Southern Railroad to acquire the former Conrail Southern Tier line from Hornell to Corry, Pa.

In doing so, the authority has the power to forgive taxes for up to 10 years to Norfolk Southern, which would mean a 100 percent loss of taxes to school districts and municipalities.

Legislature Chairman Gerard Fitzpatrick, R-Ellicottville, sponsored the resolution, saying, "We are asking to be part of the state bill so that our local municipalities and schools also get taxes reimbursed."

Fitzpatrick, who is also chairman of the rail authority, said Gov. George E. Pataki's proposed new state budget includes $2 million for rehabilitation of the Southern Tier line, which is "essential, leading to the revitalization of this line for local shipping service and mainline through traffic, leading to economic development and the improvement of the general economy of the affected counties."

Legislators tabled indefinitely a resolution asking the state to reconsider its decision to regulate Internet sales of cigarettes on Indian reservations. They said they want further discussions on the issue and how it relates to sales of tobacco to minors.

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