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Mohan aides updated on proposed takeover of street lights

Spokesmen for Custom Lighting Services of Kansas City met Tuesday with aides to Supervisor-elect Satish B. Mohan to explain the proposed takeover of Amherst's street lighting system.

Depending on who's counting, Amherst can save more than $750,000 a year by buying its lighting system from National Grid -- or the purchase could wind up costing Amherst taxpayers about $4.5 million over the 20-year contract period.

Following the more than two-hour meeting, Council Member Shelly Schratz said she will file a measure calling for an independent expert to review the company's proposal.

"That's what I want. No matter how long it takes, it's the right thing to do," Schratz said.

In August, Council Member Jane S. Woodward, chief sponsor of the proposal, pushed through a surprise measure calling on the town to finance the purchase with a seven year "alternative financing" arrangement with Custom Lighting.

But reaction to the board's 4-3 vote was so strong that the proposal was put on hold, and no action has been taken to acquire the 8,500 street lights. Under the plan, Custom Lighting will manage the system.

At one point in the more than two-hour meeting, Custom Lighting's general manager, Eric Vogel asked Mohan's aides: "Would you just want us to leave?"

But Mohan aide Colleen Bogdan turned aside the question, telling Vogel that Mohan was seeking more information about the lighting proposal.

"There has never been enough information made public to make a reasoned decision," Bogdan said following the meeting.

Also representing Mohan was Accountant Edward J. Schunk, who analyzed the buyout plan using the town's figures. Schunk complained that he has asked the town for financial information about the company's proposal, "and I have been stonewalled."

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com

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