Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 4, 2013

Hearing draws concern

Niagara Gazette —

Members of the public raised concerns Friday over a tax break for a Niagara Falls waste-energy company that has asked the county for help in supporting its expansion plans. 

Covanta Energy stands to receive a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for $30 million worth of improvements it is planning at its facilities off of 56th Street.

The proposed tax break agreement is scheduled for a vote by the NCIDA Board of Directors on Wednesday. A public hearing held by agency officials on Friday at City Hall drew a handful of speakers, the majority of which voiced opposition to the county offering financial assistance for the proposed expansion. 

Henry R. Krawczyk, a resident who lives on John Road next to the existing Covanta plant, spoke passionately about the negative impacts he says the facility has had on the quality of life in his neighborhood, complaining about noise, air pollution and other concerns. He questioned why the NCIDA would offer tax breaks to a company in Covanta's line of work. 

"Why do we got to be the waste dump of the world?" Krawczyk said. 

Covanta has asked the NCIDA to support its plan to develop a rail transfer station that would allow the company to accept waste deliveries by train, including shipments of garbage from New York City. Other elements of the proposed expansion include a 190-foot tall smoke stack to act as a back up source of energy when there are gaps in waste deliveries, a mile-long steam line that would run between the Covanta facility and a new paper liner factory being built off Packard Road and a "special waste" building to be used in the preparation of waste for processing. 

Of the seven members of the public that spoke Friday, only one was in favor of the tax break. Russ Quarantello, the business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 237, said the tax break will be good for the area because of the construction jobs that will come with the new infrastructure. Provided, he said, that the company uses local labor.

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