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PILOT plan: Special deals should require local approval

To create a class of taxpayers who do not answer to the electorate is indefensible. The members of JCIDA who argue that these PILOTs need local approval are right and should hold their ground before Jefferson County's property taxpayers are any further disenfranchised. And it is time for the Legislature to wake up to its responsibility and take away from JCIDA the power to provide lower property taxes to the selected few.

The Jefferson County Industrial Agency finally has held some public discussions as they attempt to do what the county Legislature told them to do almost a year ago. JCIDA members are talking about changes to the uniform tax exempt policy adopted in 2004.

JCIDA ignored the county's direction to produce a uniform policy for wind power developments in the county and instead negotiated a special deal for the Galloo Island project, which cost county taxpayers substantial lost property tax revenues and left unsaid just exactly what part of the county would host the power line serving the project.

At the last meeting of JCIDA's governance committee, members expressed concern about a proposal by their attorney that such a policy could be drafted which would preclude local government from signing off on any deal the agency made with a developer.

That opposition is thoughtful and correct.

The scheme to cut out taxing jurisdictions was put forward by attorney Justin S. Miller, Harris Beach PLLC, Albany.

"The IDA is not required to make changes forwarded by the taxing jurisdictions," he said. "There is no required consent or veto power of the taxing jurisdiction - you're just required to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Jefferson County Industrial Agency finally has held some public discussions as they attempt to do what the county Legislature told them to do almost a year ago. JCIDA members are talking about changes to the uniform tax exempt policy adopted in 2004.

JCIDA ignored the county's direction to produce a uniform policy for wind power developments in the county and instead negotiated a special deal for the Galloo Island project, which cost county taxpayers substantial lost property tax revenues and left unsaid just exactly what part of the county would host the power line serving the project.

At the last meeting of JCIDA's governance committee, members expressed concern about a proposal by their attorney that such a policy could be drafted which would preclude local government from signing off on any deal the agency made with a developer.

That opposition is thoughtful and correct.

The scheme to cut out taxing jurisdictions was put forward by attorney Justin S. Miller, Harris Beach PLLC, Albany.

"The IDA is not required to make changes forwarded by the taxing jurisdictions," he said. "There is no required consent or veto power of the taxing jurisdiction - you're just required to have a public process."

This proposal plays right into the hands of the financially well-off, multinational wind developers like British Petroleum and Iberdola. The big developers co-opted many elected officials when they signed the official or the official's family to host a wind turbine.

The proposed action eliminates the authority of local taxing jurisdictions and gives the staffs of a friendly nonelected board the power to provide special entities unique, favorable tax deals.

The developers do not want to deal with elected people unless they have a financial tie to them. They fear that a town or school board controlled by those without a personal financial stake might demand a higher and fairer property tax obligation than they can cajole from appointed individuals who do not answer to voters.

The law is clear on what any investor in this community can expect. In Jefferson County the towns and school boards have a standard PILOT, which provides a sliding scale of property taxes, sales tax and mortgage relief. Anything beyond that pattern, such as the special deal bestowed upon the Galloo Island project, must be approved by the local jurisdictions.

To create a class of taxpayers who do not answer to the electorate is indefensible. The members of JCIDA who argue that these PILOTs need local approval are right and should hold their ground before Jefferson County's property taxpayers are any further disenfranchised.

And it is time for the Legislature to wake up to its responsibility and take away from JCIDA the power to provide lower property taxes to the selected few.


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

JUL 23 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/27381-pilot-plan-special-deals-should-require-local-approval
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