Helping fill a large gap

Making a push for more aid for the city of Dunkirk and its school district is an effort a number of residents — and employees — can appreciate.

Last week, state Sen. Catharine Young announced that a budget resolution is designed to offset a chunk of the losses both entities and the county are facing due to NRG Energy Inc. being in the midst of a repowering of its Dunkirk operation. Because the facility is not producing power, its payment in lieu of taxes — which was at more than $8 million one time — is decreasing to $420,000 for the city, school and county.

Young, knowing the sting of this loss, is taking a more aggressive approach for state assistance.

“Our local taxpayers cannot afford huge property tax hikes,” she noted in creating a $60 million fund. “If the mitigation fund wasn’t there, we would face serious reductions of vital services, such as police and fire protection, and it would have serious consequences for our children’s education. Continuing the state funding will protect our community and school district from devastating losses.”

Dunkirk and its schools never had plans for if and when NRG did cease operations. The repowering was supposed to give our city some time, but the lawsuit that delayed the repowering has been a major setback.

Additional funding — from the state — is certainly a better option than none.