Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Editorial

Town looks for approval, financial support for raw water plan

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor

I would like to take this opportunity to make you aware of an important project that the town has been working on for the past 18 months: providing raw (non-potable) water to some of the major industries on River Road. This project has taken on a real sense of urgency over the past six weeks.

When the Huntley electric-generation station closed in February 2016, the town, school district and Erie County lost one of its largest taxpayers. That was bad enough, but we also became aware that the industries that rely on the raw water from the Huntley intakes may lose this critical water supply soon as the Huntley plant operator considers ending the service. Without the long-term certainty of a supply of raw water, these industries, their new investments and their jobs are jeopardized.

The huge water intakes at Huntley provide raw water to many of our local industries, including Peroxy Chem; Sumitomo Rubber, formerly Dunlop; Dupont; and 3M, among others. These companies provide thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. They also have made, or are in the process of making, decisions about investing tens of millions of dollars for capital projects at their facilities.

To address the future loss of raw water to our industries, the Town of Tonawanda has developed a plan to get these businesses the water they need for their operations, but we need regulatory approval and financial support from the state to get there. Two years ago, our state representatives and the governor did support our mitigation fund efforts to cushion the blow of the closing of Huntley station, and we are very grateful for their efforts. However, they can’t stop there. Our plan generates significant revenues for our town, and it demonstrates that we are not just sitting and waiting with our hands open. We have a plan that replenishes some of this lost tax revenue, but we need state and federal governments’ help to get there. Switching gears, March 1 is fast approaching, and it is a very important date that everyone should pay attention to if you own real property in Erie County. That’s the day every year that all property tax exemptions must be filed in the Town Assessor’s Office. These include the Enhanced STAR (School Tax Relief), Low-Income Senior, Veterans and Disability exemptions. Renewal letters were mailed out to all eligible taxpayers in October 2017. If you have not renewed yet, are unsure or just have questions, contact the Assessor’s Office at 877-8811.

Also in March, I and other members of the Town Board will sit down with State Sen. Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. At this meeting, the Town Board and the department heads will bring to their attention items that affect our community and that we feel merit their attention. Local government, more than any other government, is about providing services to the community in which you live. So, any relief that our state offers on this issue is welcome.

Finally, we have outstanding volunteer fire companies and service clubs in the town that provide vital services to our community. Please consider joining one of them today.

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