WATERTOWN, N.Y. – “A wind farm is not going to occur unless there is a tax relief,” said Syracuse Attorney Kevin McAuliffe.
That’s about the one thing everyone agrees with.
McAuliffe, who specializes in wind farm payment agreements, was brought in by Jefferson County to inform lawmakers about the options the county and its towns have when it comes to distributing payment money and revenue from the farms.
McAuliffe said the best way is to do what Lewis County did, have one big Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT agreement which would run through the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. That would combine each project into the one agreement and distribute the money evenly for each taxing entity.
“Everyone came to the table,” McAuliffle said of the Lewis County agreement. “They looked at it. They analyzed what was best for the community and they decided on how the money was to be distributed. It has to be done that way.”
But that’s not the way the towns that would be affected by the farms seem to want to do it.
Legislator Mike Docteur, who represents Clayton and Cape Vincent, who have proposed farms, said a Host Community payment would be the best idea. That is an agreement which would see only the areas involved get the money.
McAuliffe said those agreements have never been put to the test in court, and may not even hold up under law.
Docteur said there’s no reason to believe it won’t and is pushing for it.
“Turbine projects bring new revenue into the community,” he said. “It’s not as if we’re splitting up an existing piece of the pie. It’s revenue that’s generated within specific geographical areas.”
Docteur said he realizes the county should see some benefit from a wind farm. He’s proposing a deal similar to one struck in Wyoming County, 80 percent Host Community and 20 percent JCIDA PILOT.
The county cannot tell the towns what to do. But several county leaders, some of whom represent districts that wouldn’t be affected by wind farms, say McAuliffe’s choice would work the best.
By: Brian Dwyer
5 February 2008
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