There’s a debate happening in towns like Henderson, Clayton and Orleans over whether or not wind farms would be good additions to the Jefferson County landscape.
There are a couple projects in the works. One is slated for Galloo Island and the other along the St. Lawrence River.
Scott Gray chairs the Jefferson County Legislature. He says the county will not give tax deals to any wind projects in the county.
“What we look at it and say what are the benefits that it’s bringing to the community and therefore is it necessary to do some sort of abatement,” Gray said, “and in this case many people don’t believe there is any benefit.”
He says wind projects don’t bring jobs to the area.
“Tax abatements are really meant to create jobs,” he said. “Wind projects, they may create short-term jobs in terms of some construction, but that’s mostly out-of-area jobs.
But Gray says the county legislature can’t write off a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement just yet, because it doesn’t have to mean a “deal” with companies.
In this case, he says a an agreement could be used to redistribute the percentage of taxes among school districts, towns and the county.
“A PILOT may adjust the distribution between two entities, like the school district and the town, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to give up anything in tax dollars,” he said.
He says if the county was to enter a PILOT agreement with a wind company, whatever the distribution of taxes, the percentages will always add up to 100 percent. That means no tax breaks.
“The county is not interested in taking and abating any taxes that is due to the county under a certain project like that,” he said. “We expect, whatever the value is, that they’re going to pay full taxation.
Iberdrola Renewables is planning a wind farm in Jefferson County. A spokesperson says the company is remaining optimistic and will welcome a discussion about financial arrangements that could include potential tax deals.
The company says it can point out numerous projects across the state where PILOT agreements have been beneficial to the community.
Iberdrola Renewables is also eying a project on Lewis County’s Tug Hill.
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