LEWISTON – The Lewiston Town Board has unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Councilman Ernest C. Palmer, calling for New York State to change the rules and make the New York Power Authority begin reimbursing first responders such as police and volunteer fire companies for calls to Power Authority property.
“When we were in the preliminary steps of preparing the budget this year we were looking at ways to cut expenses and find revenues that we are deserving of, but have not been realized throughout the years,” Palmer said of the resolution at Monday’s meeting of the Town Board. “This attempts to make a wrong into a right.”
Palmer said in his resolution that the Power Authority provides substantial economic benefits to the state, but the state is not required to provide police and fire services, nor required to provide reimbursement to municipalities such as Lewiston, which provide these services.
In the resolution, it was noted that the Power Authority controls more than 2,400 acres in the Town of Lewiston that is neither taxable nor available for development, and by not paying special district taxes the Power Authority is depriving Lewiston fire districts of $2 million in revenue.
Palmer noted in the resolution that the Upper Mountain Fire Company was specifically created in 1959 to improve protection for the Robert Moses Power Plant being built in 1957.
The resolution notes that the Power Authority provided $13 million to the City of Niagara Falls to meet its budget needs in November 2012, just weeks after Lewiston first responders were called upon to extinguish a turbine fire at the Moses Power Plant.
The resolution called upon the state to enact legislation to permit payment to fire companies and police that act as first responders or alternatively allow the town to place all Power Authority land within the town on its tax rolls and immediately begin collecting special district taxes.
Supervisor Steven A. Reiter said he was at an anniversary event when town police responded to someone who crashed the gate at the New York Power Authority.
“At that event, (the state) promised to help first responders and they did not. Now it’s time for this matter to be pushed,” said Reiter.