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Niagara County lawmakers OK low-cost power for envelope maker

LOCKPORT - The Niagara County Legislature Tuesday night granted a low-cost power allocation to a startup envelope manufacturer.

Niagara Envelope, to be located in the former Bell Aerospace plant on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield, plans to open in February with four full-time employees. However, the company has plans to employ 18 people once its full business plan comes to fruition, Legislature Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove said.

The company, owned by Janese Olivero of Niagara Falls, will combine offset printing and manufacturing.

Niagara Envelope is investing $424,000 in its plant, where construction began in September.

This is the first startup business to be aided by the county’s Empower Niagara agency. The sale of the electricity, originally granted to the county through the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, will net the county $46,000.

In other matters, the Legislature set public hearings on the tentative 2013 budget for 6 p.m. Dec. 4. The Legislature is not expected to vote on the spending plan or amendments until Dec. 18.

The budget submitted by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz includes 40 position cuts and a 3 percent tax levy.

Also Dec. 4, the Legislature will hold a 6:50 p.m. public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement for the seven towers to be built as part of the county’s new emergency radio system, slated for construction next year.

Lawmakers also passed a resolution of support for Western Regional Off-Track Betting’s proposal to have a full-scale gaming casino. WROTB wants to have a casino at Batavia Downs if a state constitutional amendment passes next year to legalize casinos on non-Indian land.

The resolution was amended at the request of Legislator Cheree J. Copelin, R-Niagara Falls, to make support for OTB casinos contingent on the City of Niagara Falls receiving all the money it is owed by the Seneca Nation of Indians in casino funds. Michael Nolan, vice president and chief operating officer of WROTB, said his organization provides about $250,000 a year to Niagara County, one of 17 local governments that receive a share.

“This resolution doesn’t do anything to help the situation with the Senecas,” said Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls.

Because of the county’s share of OTB profits, “As Batavia Downs succeeds, so does Niagara County,” argued Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane.

Virtuoso and Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, voted against the measure.