Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 14, 2013

Lewiston town board wants power authority to help fund police and fire services

Niagara Gazette — Lewiston officials are hoping New York State politicians come to their senses and change the rules concerning one of the largest properties off the tax rolls in the border town.

Councilman Ernest Palmer, with the support of the town board’s four remaining members, presented a resolution last week asking the state government to force the New York Power Authority to help fund the town’s fire and police services responding to the Niagara Power Project’s 2,400 acres of land in the town.

“The town board’s been working very hard looking for new ways to cut expenses or find new revenue,” Palmer said. “This resolution attempts to make a wrong a right. It’s my belief we’re not provided enough compensation for the services our crews provide.”

The request would, if adopted by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allow the state agency to willfully contribute money to first responder groups that support the safety and security of the Robert Moses Power Plant.

Financing fire and police response has long been this board’s gripe with the state, stemming from a 2007 ruling by Cuomo, then the attorney general, barring the agency from disbursing funds to these community entities.

Since then, departments have been called on to provide support numerous times without any financial support in return, including an August 2012 turbine fire at the Robert Moses Power Plant just weeks after the power authority contributed $13 million to the City of Niagara Falls, which was struggling through its casino cash issues.

Palmer called upon both Democrat leaders of the state assembly and Republicans in the senate to approve the measure, or alternatively, open up the authority’s land within the town’s borders, allowing the town to place the power plant on the tax rolls to collect special district taxes to support the efforts on site.

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