The Jefferson County Board of Legislators is scheduled to introduce a policy requiring alternative energy projects to pay the county its full share of property taxes regardless of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.
According to the resolution, which will be brought before the County Board’s Finance Committee June 28, alternative energy projects with a 25-megawatt output must pay the county an amount equal to full taxation even if a PILOT agreement among taxing jurisdictions and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency is in place.
New York State Real Property Tax Law allows for a 15-year exemption from taxation of increases in property value created by construction of solar, wind or farm waste energy systems. Taxing jurisdictions can require project owners to enter a PILOT agreement with each appropriate jurisdiction and their respective industrial development agency. However, jurisdictions are allowed to opt out of the law if they so choose.
The resolution’s language states that alternative energy projects produce few permanent jobs regardless of capital investment and result in little economic gain for municipalities.
The new policy comes on the heels of Apex Clean Energy’s Galloo Island wind project proposal to the board June 7. The wind farm will consist of 32 turbines and a 30-mile underwater transmission line from the island to a National Grid substation in the town of Oswego.
The project must go through the Article 10 review process, which is expected to continue for the next year with construction slated to start in late 2017.
The wind farm would be operational in 2018. Construction will create 100 to 150 temporary jobs. Once it’s complete, however, only three to five permanent jobs will remain.
Apex is expected to seek a 20-year PILOT agreement with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said a tax abatement for the wind project is a “substantial request” considering the small economic impact it would have on municipalities.
“A lot of these projects have a negative effect on the tax cap, so we have to be careful about what these projects bring to the community,” Mr. Gray said.
Mr. Gray noted that other taxing jurisdictions, such as the town of Hounsfield, can still take whatever course they feel is necessary for granting a tax abatement.
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