DUNKIRK: Control board not far away

What happened in Buffalo and Erie County caught the attention of many back in the mid 2000s. Both entities faced financial uncertainty and a control board took over.

When that happened, the belt buckle on the finances got much tighter. Members of the board actually looked at the figures — and contracts — as though they were running a business. They also had stricter controls and could put a stop to those agreements.

Dunkirk seems to be far from a control board, but a lot of its future depends on what happens with Athenex and the NRG Energy Inc. plant on the waterfront. We continue to get optimistic news on the construction of Athenex, with the county Industrial Development Agency signing a contract and the town of Dunkirk to have plans go public later this month.

But NRG remains an uncertainty, no matter how much reassurance we keep receiving.

That plant, in a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, contributed about $8 million to the city and its schools. Another $1 million went to the county.

Without that money — and no transition funding possibly in the future from the state — would put Dunkirk at risk.

That’s what city officials — and the workers — need to think about in the next year.