Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 4, 2013

Hearing draws concern

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

Regan confirmed that the company had no plans to reduce staff or close down if the NCIDA doesn't grant them the PILOT. He said the jobs on site would be more likely to last into the future if the infrastructure improvements were made.

"Those jobs will be further supported with this investment," Regan said.

Amy Hope Witryol, a former state senatorial candidate who has investigated environmental issues in the region for over a decade, said the company's annual reports - including filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - suggest Covanta doesn't need a tax break to expand. Witryol believes the company would go forward with the planned infrastructure upgrades regardless of the PILOT agreement.

"If the IDA approves the Covanta application the taxpayers of Niagara Falls, Niagara County and New York state will be asked to pick up an $8 million tab for stockholders of a New Jersey company," Witryol said.

Witryol said other municipalities where waste-to-energy plants operate receive host community payments or discounts with the company for waste disposal, neither of which the city of Niagara Falls will get as part of the agreement.

"The IDA application proposes instead that we pay Covanta for investments that it seems to be making in any case," Witryol said. 

Regan would not say whether the company would go forward with the investments or not if the company does not receive the PILOT agreement from the NCIDA.

"It has yet to be determined if all aspects of the project will move forward," Regan said in an email.

NCIDA Chairman Henry Sloma said he intends to support the deal. He said Covanta's investment does more than just create jobs, it builds energy infrastructure in a part of the city that is unappealing to most businesses.

"This will benefit everyone in that community," Sloma said. 

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