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Payment to Power Coalition disputed

Town Board members said Thursday they plan to hold off on voting to pay the Niagara Power Coalition $42,000 for 2007 after hearing the town supervisor say he doesn't think his town should have to pay the same as everyone else in the group.

Supervisor Steven C. Richards said at a work session Thursday that he didn't believe the town's taxpayers should continue to pay the equal share of the bill among the seven entities in the Niagara Power Coalition, since the town will be receiving 12 percent of the share of the settlement.

The town should now pay 12 percent of the yearly dues, Richards said.

If all of the entities were awarded the same amount, it would equal out to 14.3 percent.

Following the meeting, Richards said he believes the lawyers representing the Niagara Power Coalition need to be paid more this year because of an increased work load. The town paid the coalition $30,000 in 2006, he said.

Both Richards and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin voted against the budget in late March during a Niagara Power Coalition meeting.

Richards and Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello said at the time they had only budgeted $30,000 for coalition dues, which is what members have paid for about the last five years.

Richards did say Thursday he believes the coalition should be paying more as a group for 2007 because the coalition's attorneys need to do more work.

Richards said he plans to vote to table the measure when the board meets in a regular session at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall, 7105 Lockport Road.

The coalition comprises Niagara County, the towns of Niagara and Lewiston, the City of Niagara Falls, and the Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls school districts.

The power coalition will split up 25 megawatts of hydropower and $8 million in cash per year. The money includes $5 million a year to be spent as the recipients wish and another $3 million for recreational projects pertinent to the Niagara River Greenway Plan.

Councilman Marc M. Carpenter asked how long the Town Board plans to pay dues to the power coalition, questioning if his town needs to pay for 50 years -- the length of the settlement.

Richards said, "By my review, you might have to stay in there because of the greenway money."

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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