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Uniform tax-exempt policy gets no changes  

Credit:  By Nancy Madsen, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 3 December 2010 ~~

After years of review and debate, Jefferson County’s uniform tax-exempt policy won’t change.

Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency’s board of directors voted on the policy, which governs payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, during Thursday’s meeting.

“After taking a look at wind projects, I don’t believe they can be all the same,” Vice-chairman David J. Converse said. “They really should not be included in the uniform tax-exempt policy. Each should be a deviation from our regular policy. Let’s keep the existing policy we have.”

Taking the guidelines for PILOTs out of the policy followed the majority of public comments the agency received on the proposal in the last few months.

Cindy L. Grant, Clayton, asked Thursday that wind projects be excluded from any new policy.

“These projects will bankrupt the state and the country,” she said. “It’s not about green energy. It’s about the green money they hope to take from us.”

The wind projects could still be considered for PILOTs and would likely follow the PILOT parameters used for the Galloo Island Wind Farm PILOT. But, as will Galloo Island’s PILOT, each taxing jurisdiction would approve the PILOT and the payments’ distribution.

“We would certainly steer them in that direction,” CEO Donald C. Alexander said. “Now, it’s established as precedent.”

The PILOT guidelines in the policy will remain up to 15 years as an increasing portion of the full property tax liability, with each taxing jurisdiction receiving payments in proportion to the property taxes it would normally receive. Any departure from that is considered a deviation and would require approval from all taxing jurisdictions.

Another comment from the public was a request to vote on sales and mortgage recording tax breaks, as well as PILOTs. The existing policy was last changed in 2004.

“We do a pretty good job looking at the cost-benefit analysis on what we’re giving,” Treasurer Michelle D. Pfaff said. “We look long-term at the sales tax coming down the line and jobs created.”

Member John Doldo Jr. said, “These are all subjective calls. They just asked that we strongly reconsider it – whether we give local elected officials input.”

Mr. Converse said JCIDA uses fees from the sale-leaseback agreements, which have been criticized, to provide grants for projects, such as infrastructure in the city of Watertown.

The board made no changes to the sale-leaseback provisions.

The board also:

■ Extended a $133,717 loan for a proposed Days Inn by Dinesh T. Patel so that the loan, originally approved in July, would be available for 18 more months. The money can be accessed after construction ends.

■ Extended the interest-only period on a $250,000 loan to Florelle Tissue Corp. from six months to 12 months.

■ Allowed Carthage Area Hospital to change the interest rate on its 2005 bond at KeyBank. The new interest rate was not available.

Source:  By Nancy Madsen, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 3 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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