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Somerset to talk energy tax breaks  

Credit:  By Rachel Fuerschbach | Lockport Union-Sun & Journal | February 20, 2016 | www.lockportjournal.com ~~

SOMERSET – A local law that would allow Somerset to opt-out of a provision in state real property tax law that allows energy projects to be exempt from property taxes will be presented and discussed in a meeting Wednesday.

New York State Real Property Tax Law Section 487 says property that contains a wind, solar or farm waste energy project approved by the state is exempt from real property taxes for 15 years. The special meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Somerset Town Hall, located at 8700 Haight Road.

The town, in preparation of present and future energy projects, wants to opt-out of the exemption law, so it will be eligible to collect taxes on the property for these projects, Supervisor Dan Engert said.

“We want to position the town in the best position to collect revenues in the town,” Engert said. “Essentially, this opt-out law protects the town by not subjecting it to no revenue, because we are exempt from the real property taxes.”

In introducing the opt-out law to the public, Engert and the board are providing the public with the opportunity to share thoughts and concerns about the proposed change. However, the board stresses that the opt-out is not to just address one project, but all of the projects that may come to the town.

“Our duty is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” Engert said. “This law will take into consideration any project that comes into the town.”

In addition to the opt-out law, the Town Board will introduce three additional laws for adoption. They include the wind ordinance law, infrastructure law and penalties law.

The proposed wind ordinance law consists of amendments to the Somerset town zoning code regarding commercial and industrial wind energy conversion systems.

The infrastructure law will address any major construction project that is to come into the town with major heavy equipment. The law will require the contractor or developer of the project to take out a bond from insurance carriers to cover any damage that may transpire during construction.

The purpose of the law is to give additional protection for the residents, Engert said.

The penalties law relates to zoning within the town. Being proposed for adoption is a reduction of a misdemeanor fine if the violation is a non-classified violation.

Source:  By Rachel Fuerschbach | Lockport Union-Sun & Journal | February 20, 2016 | www.lockportjournal.com

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