Niagara Gazette — Lewiston Town Board Councilman Alphonso Bax is making sure he's heard in the fight against the proposed expansion of Chemical Waste Management's Lewiston facility.
He said he'll be sure the Niagara County Legislature doesn't just receive $18,000 from the town, which was agreed upon at last week's meeting. He said the board will be providing the county the full $50,000 it owes to get experts working again in their shared fight against the expansion efforts.
"My goal is to have the money to the county by their next legislature meeting," Bax said following the town's work session Monday. How he'll do it is still a mystery, though not a shrouded one.
Bax and the council have, as of October, about $60,000 of an initial $100,000 available in its budget for outside legal council. Of that, the town committed $18,000 to the county to pay an overdue expense in the CWM proceedings. The same account would handle Bax's continuation of payments, with an additional $32,000 due the county to get their attorney, Allegany-based Gary Abraham, back to work.
Bax said it's unclear whether payment would require a formal vote by the board or if the county would accept simply being told the money is available and to send a bill once it's needed. But either way, he said, the county will see its funding.
The environmental activist group Residents for Responsible Government held a press conference prior to the board's meeting Monday expressing disbelief the town would keep the experts from working on the job they started in 2007 under then-Supervisor Fred Newlin.
They said immediate action is needed by the town to ensure not only the attorney, but also the group of experts he'll need to back up his legal battle, are funded.
"CWM has its own law firm suited up and ready to go," RRG member Timothy Henderson said. "And here we are trying to get into the fight. We don't want to be left with nobody to represent us. Don't want to be left down and defenseless."
Bax, though, maintained he had no knowledge the stoppage occurred until the recent past and the end of the service wasn't his doing.
He said the issue is a lack of communication between the town board and the county, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible as the state Department of Environmental Conservation could begin hearings on the expansion matter as soon as early December.
"Our goal is to get everyone back on the job," Bax said. "This is the most critical $50,000 the town can spend."
In other town news, there will be a public hearing concerning its proposed 2014 spending plan at 6 p.m. tonight in town hall, 1375 Ridge Road, Lewiston.
The public will have an opportunity to ask questions of the board members and offer their comments on the town's $17.2 million budget, which includes each of the town's special districts, as well as the town's proposed tax levy, which is estimated to be $2.5 million.
If unchanged before adopted, the levy will fall below the state's property tax levy cap for the third consecutive year, which Supervisor Steve Reiter said is an accomplishment.
"Once again, we stayed under the 2 percent tax cap," Reiter said. We didn't raise any of our special districts, we may have even reduced a couple, and ... our fund balance will increase again, so I think we did well."Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.