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JCIDA adopts uniform tax exemption policy

WATERTOWN – The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency adopted a revised version of its uniform tax exemption policy Tuesday.

The policy, which provides a general outline of what the agency requires for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, now includes language that supports the county’s tax policy for alternative-energy projects. The county requires developers to pay an amount equal to full taxation for projects with an output greater than 25 megawatts.

The JCIDA’s Board of Directors also incorporated its requirement for applicants to disclose the estimated amount of other public assistance they expect to receive for their projects, said the agency’s attorney, Joseph W. Russell of Menter, Rudin and Trivelpiece, P.C.

Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the JCIDA’s sister organization, the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said the agency’s decision to adopt the modified set of practices concludes years of intermittent efforts to revise them, efforts the agency accelerated in the past 18 months.

“I think it addresses a couple of concerns regarding renewable energy projects,” said Clayton Town Supervisor David M. Storandt Jr., “and it still gives the JCIDA latitude to fulfill its mission.”

The latest version of the JCIDA’s written guidelines still contains other key components such as the 50 percent maximum for tax abatement and the recapture policy.

Agency board members previously debated whether to extend the maximum PILOT duration to 20 years, but Mr. Alexander said they kept it at 15 years.

“It’s all pretty much the same,” he said.

The agency also enacted minor changes in language in the document, including one that was based on a question from Mr. Storandt.

Mr. Storandt questioned the inclusion of word “qualified” from the statement “Eligible projects include … qualified renewable energy projects with a rated capacity of less than 25 megawatts.”

“What determines a qualified renewable energy project?” he said.

The inquiry incited a discussion among board members about how to define “qualified” and whether to include it in the policy. Robert E. Aliasso Jr. said in conjunction with the word “eligible,”the term was a “qualifier of a qualifier.” The board ultimately decided to remove the term from the sentence.

“The clarity is good,” Mr. Storandt said.

The revised policy took affect immediately after the board adopted it.