Wind power development became the focus of a public hearing on the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s proposed uniform tax exempt policy.
About 40 members of the public attended the hearing. Ten
people spoke during the hour-long hearing at Jefferson Community College, eight of whom spoke on wind power – generally opposing it.
The policy, which hasn’t been updated in more than five years, outlines what standard payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreements are and when the agency will use them. This time, the policy incorporates renewable energy development.
The new policy includes a clause for renewable energy
PILOTs that can extend up to 20 years and would include a fixed base payment per megawatt, increasing each year, and supplemental payments based on high electricity prices.
“I object to the proposed UTEP because there is strong evidence that industrial wind turbine projects will hurt our region economically and these kinds of projects do not deserve the very generous tax breaks that your board is recommending,” said Cindy L. Grant, Clayton.
The format follows the PILOT that was instituted for Galloo
Island Wind Farm in February.
The policy would result in local taxing jurisdictions exerting more power over PILOTs, instead of decisions by the agency’s board of directors alone, but some jurisdictions asked for even more power.
In the past, if a development was eligible for one of the standard PILOTs, the agency board could avoid going to each taxing jurisdiction for approval.
But under the proposed policy, the agency must, with rare exceptions, obtain approval from all jurisdictions for every PILOT and its distribution.
Manufacturing, industrial and warehouse projects that follow a standard 15-year PILOT would not need approval from all involved taxing jurisdictions.
“There is likely to be a deviation on anything we do,” JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said earlier in the day.
But several entities, including the city of Watertown, village of West Carthage, town of Champion and village of Carthage, said
in letters that they want the ability to vote on granting sales and mortgage recording tax breaks as well.
Clayton Supervisor Justin A. Taylor had a slightly different suggestion.
“Look at exempting the state portion of sales tax, not the local portion of sales tax,” he said.
Jefferson County legislators discussed the policy at a Finance and Rules Committee meeting
on Wednesday afternoon. They agreed they wanted to see a threshold for approving PILOTs.
“I would suggest they arrive at a figure, not name a figure, because we’re only making suggestions to them,” Chairman Scott A. Gray said.
The board of the agency could vote on the measure following the Jefferson County Job Development Corp. meeting at 8 a.m. today at 800 Starbuck Ave.
Mr. Alexander said the board may table the policy and vote at a later time.
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