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Empire State Development: Tonawanda taxpayers will receive relief following power plant closures

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Thu, Nov 17th 2016 04:00 pm

Electric generation facility cessation mitigation program will help preserve vital services in communities

Empire State Development on Thursday announced taxpayers in Tonawanda will receive assistance as part of the electric generation facility cessation mitigation program, which was enacted as part of the 2016-17 state budget. The $30 million fund was created to aid communities that lose property tax revenue due to an electric generating plant closure.

Tonawanda was hurt financially by the closure of NGR's Huntley Power.

"These communities were facing very difficult financial decisions as they examined how to absorb the loss of revenue from the closure of the Huntley and Dunkirk power plants," ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said. "That's why the state established the electric generation facility cessation mitigation fund - which is now supporting communities with funding to help reduce tax burdens in order to lessen the effect on local property taxes, small business and those on fixed incomes."

The program provides grants to eligible local government entities that demonstrate qualifying reductions in the tax liability and/or payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) owed by an electric generation facility subject to their taxing authority. Eligible local government entities may apply to receive program grants on an annual basis for up to five years provided the application and supporting documentation confirms the tax loss each year remains above 20 percent, although the maximum potential grant value will decline over the five years.

In year one, the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District will receive $2,230,930. This award is subject to approval by the ESD board of directors and proof of the tax loss. Other eligible local government entities are also eligible for assistance as part of the electric generation facility cessation mitigation program. Funding to these entities will be considered once applications are received.

"The closure of the Huntley Plant resulted in the loss of $3 million annually in school district revenue," said Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District Superintendent Dawn Mirand. "After years of devastating losses from the Gap Elimination Adjustment and other cuts to state education aid, the Huntley closure significantly challenged the Ken-Ton School District's ability to provide students with the opportunities and programming they deserve. The assistance from the electric generation facility cessation mitigation program will help the district transition from when the Huntley Plant was our largest taxpayer. I am very grateful to all those who worked toward the creation of this fund, Empire State Development, and to Gov. Cuomo and the State Legislature for understanding the tremendous impact the closure of these plants have on the local community."

The electric generation facility cessation mitigation program is administered by ESD in conjunction with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Department of Public Service. This fund is available to counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and special districts to replace property taxes paid by electric generating facilities that close on or after June 25, 2015. In order to qualify for the funding, a local government must demonstrate the closing of the facility has caused a reduction in the collection of real property taxes or payments in lieu of taxes of at least 20 percent of the taxes owed by the electric generating facility. The maximum potential grant award is reduced each year, starting with up to 80 percent of tax loss in year one and concluding with up to 20 percent of tax loss in year five.

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