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Dunkirk, Fredonia discuss sharing services in wake of ConAgra closing

DUNKIRK – Dunkirk officials will look more closely at regional sharing and cooperation to help them overcome the losses expected due to the closing of the ConAgra facilities here and in Fredonia.

At the Dunkirk Finance Committee meeting on Monday in City Hall, Mayor A.J. Dolce said he has had several conversations with Fredonia Mayor Steve Keefe and they plan to sit down and try to look towards future solutions that would involve both communities.

The ConAgra closing will bring the loss of 425 jobs in the area over the next year.

City Finance Director Richard Halas said he thought that many of the workers lived in the city.

“We will have the ripple effect of the loss of families who leave the area because of the loss of these jobs,” said Halas.

Dolce said he anticipates the loss in water and sewer revenues from ConAgra’s Talcott Street warehouse alone to be $175,000 in 2015.

In other matters, Halas told city leaders that they will need to look at long-term financing for improvements to the water and wastewater treatment facilities.

He said that interest alone on the financing could be $1 million each year.

“The only way to help cover this cost is to get new users,” said Halas. He said the regional approach to selling water throughout all of Northern Chautauqua County could provide some financial relief.

He cautioned that the regional water district may not be ready to operate for another two years.

Also, Councilwoman Stephanie Kiyak has been appointed as one of Dunkirk’s representatives to the North County Water Agency District Board.

And City Treasurer Mark Woods reported that the city received a favorable interest rate of 0.5 percent for the one-year bond anticipation note of $12.4 million to pay for the water projects already completed. Bonds were issued on March 13.