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JCIDA board approves uniform tax-exempt policy

All involved taxing jurisdictions will have to vote for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for wind power projects before they are finalized by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. The agency's board agreed on the proposed uniform tax-exempt policy during its meeting Thursday morning.

VOTE IS 6-0: PILOTs for wind farms will have to be voted on by all involved taxing jurisdictions before agency finalizes them

All involved taxing jurisdictions will have to vote for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for wind power projects before they are finalized by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

The agency's board agreed on the proposed uniform tax-exempt policy during its meeting Thursday morning. The proposed policy will go to all of the taxing jurisdictions in the county for a 60-day comment period, culminating in a public hearing and possible approval by the board.

The policy outlines what standard PILOT agreements are and when the agency will use them. If a development is eligible for one of the allowed standard PILOTs, the agency board can avoid going to each taxing jurisdiction for votes in every case. But the agency will have an exception for PILOTs on wind power projects.

Most PILOTs run 15 years and have payments based on a percentage of what the project would have paid in property taxes. Those generally are divided among a school district, municipality and the county based on the proportion of taxes that goes to each taxing jurisdiction.

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VOTE IS 6-0: PILOTs for wind farms will have to be voted on by all involved taxing jurisdictions before agency finalizes them

All involved taxing jurisdictions will have to vote for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for wind power projects before they are finalized by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

The agency's board agreed on the proposed uniform tax-exempt policy during its meeting Thursday morning. The proposed policy will go to all of the taxing jurisdictions in the county for a 60-day comment period, culminating in a public hearing and possible approval by the board.

The policy outlines what standard PILOT agreements are and when the agency will use them. If a development is eligible for one of the allowed standard PILOTs, the agency board can avoid going to each taxing jurisdiction for votes in every case. But the agency will have an exception for PILOTs on wind power projects.

Most PILOTs run 15 years and have payments based on a percentage of what the project would have paid in property taxes. Those generally are divided among a school district, municipality and the county based on the proportion of taxes that goes to each taxing jurisdiction.

"I am neither for or against wind," board member John Doldo Jr. said. "I will not approve or vote for a PILOT unless the taxing jurisdictions want it."

About 20 members of the public came to the meeting. Proponents of wind power projects in the county asked that the exception language be stricken.

"This would be giving the school board the power to kill a project," said Julia E. Gosier, Three Mile Bay, a member of Voters for Wind. "This backdoor effort to kill wind power in Jefferson County is alarming and a gross misuse of power."

John L. Byrne, Cape Vincent, a critic of wind power development, disagreed.

"Don't take away the process of democracy to vote on the PILOT to give JCIDA the power to invoke a project on us," he said. "It's vital that the school board and town board, which are elected from our town, have a say in projects that will take up 80 percent of our land mass."

St. Lawrence Wind Farm project manager Timothy Q. Conboy said developers need the stability of a uniform policy, which could be endangered by all jurisdictions having veto power on a PILOT.

"The requirement creates an effective veto right by any tax jurisdiction for any wind project," he said. "It is also contrary to the primary role the IDA plays in administering tax incentives that, by their nature, can be a source of disagreement between affected tax jurisdictions."

The policy was approved 6-0. Board member Kent D. Burto was absent.

After some discussion, the board dropped language requiring agreement on the distribution of PILOT proceeds among taxing jurisdictions before the agency board could act on it.

"If we don't take the sentence out, we give up the hammer," board member W. Edward Walldroff said. "I just don't want to see it where there's an impasse and the project gets killed."

Mr. Doldo said, "If I were a school board member, why would I even listen? Schools always need money."

Board Vice Chairman David J. Converse said, "In 30 years of history, we've never gone to pro rata because jurisdictions couldn't agree."

Board Chairman Urban C. Hirschey said, "In 30 years of history, we've never had projects like this."

Mr. Converse had some reservations about language guaranteeing local labor on all projects.

"As a businessman, I would hate to have the opportunity to bid on something in Syracuse and be shut out because of a local labor clause," he said.

Board Treasurer Michelle D. Pfaff said, "It doesn't say what the commitment is or would be but the way it's worded, something would be negotiated."

Mr. Doldo asked, "Aren't we here to create local jobs?"

They agreed to keep the language requiring a developer to demonstrate a commitment to local jobs.


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

AUG 6 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27615-jcida-board-approves-uniform-tax-exempt-policy
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