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New Property Assessment on Former Power Plant Site in New York Opens Door to State Mitigation Fund

August 11, 2016

Joseph Popiolkowski for the Buffalo News:

After the Huntley Station power plant in the Town of Tonawanda was retired March 1, the looming question was what the new assessment of the River Road property would be.

Huntley paid a combined $6 million annually to the town, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District and Erie County under a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement. With the plant shuttered and the 100 acres of waterfront land placed back on the tax rolls, that figure would be significantly less. But by how much?

That answer came Tuesday when Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District officials announced a negotiated settlement has been reached with Huntley Power LLC. The fair market value of the closed plant was set at $13 million, down from $30 million.

Under the school district’s equalization rate of 40.5 percent, Huntley will pay taxes on an assessed value of nearly $5.3 million. That means Huntley will annually pay the school district about $259,263, down from about $3 million.

That revenue loss of about $2.7 million was anticipated, however, and district officials said they are ready to tap into a mitigation fund set up by the state to help communities beset by the closing of an electricity-generating power plant like the NRG-owned Huntley.

“We have our application ready to go,” John Brucato, assistant superintendent for finance, said at Tuesday’s School Board meeting. “The only thing we were waiting on was the assessment, so we knew how much money we were out by Huntley closing their doors.”

Communities are eligible to receive up to 80 percent of the lost revenue, which in Ken-Ton’s case would be $2.2 million.

Under the settlement with Huntley, the town, county and school district are also able to retain approximately $3 million in payments the company had already made and asked to be refunded. The school district had faced the possibility of paying back over $1 million.

“This is great news for the district,” said Superintendent Dawn F. Mirand.

An order resolving the litigation was signed by Supreme Court Judge Timothy Walker and allowed the school district to set its tax rate for the coming school year. The new assessment will be reflected in September’s school tax bill and January’s town and county tax bills.

Also Tuesday, the board agreed to change the design of the new turf at Adams Field. Plans originally called for “Ken-Ton” lettering in both end zones and nothing at center field.

But public input has resulted in “Adams Field” on both end zones and the Kenmore East High School bulldog logo at center field. The changes will cost an extra $50,600 for the work at Adams.

Settlement reached on new assessment of Huntley property

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