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JCIDA to hold public hearing on housing PILOT

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Those who support or oppose tax breaks for housing projects can speak their minds today before a final vote on one property tax break deal is taken.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. at the Watertown town municipal building, 22867 County Route 67. The agency board plans to vote on the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes proposal at its 9 a.m. meeting Thursday.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators approved the PILOT on Dec. 13, the Town Council approved it Dec. 15 and the Watertown City School District board approved it Dec. 20.

We’ve kind of created a mechanism here to handle these projects,” JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said. “It may help us as we go looking for others.”

The PILOT for COR Development Co., Fayetteville, will give the school district $873,955.82 over 10 years and the county $606,330.18, half of what would be owed under full taxation. The town, which has no property tax, will receive no money through the PILOT, but will give the district $150,000.

COR will pay $29,640 directly for the PILOT. The rest of what is needed for PILOT payments to the jurisdictions will come from an escrow account that covers COR’s payments for a $3 million loan from the Community Rental Housing Program. COR puts $120,154 into that account annually for the loan repayment at 3 percent, but the lenders will be repaid at 1 percent.

Jefferson County, JCIDA and the Development Authority of the North Country contributed $7 million to the program in an effort to close a 1,035-unit housing gap that will open as Fort Drum soldiers return from Afghanistan.

COR’s project will create 296 units south of Target on Route 3.

“Everyone understands the need, but we may not universally agree with what happened,” Mr. Alexander said.

The parties began negotiating with Morgan Management, Pittsford, on Friday. They’ve learned from the COR negotiations that they need longer PILOTs than traditionally were given.

“Several of us had been talking about a three-year PILOT, which had been used for Eagle Ridge in LeRay,” Mr. Alexander said. “We realized we needed a longer PILOT to accomplish the task and that will help us because we do now have a better understanding of all that and it can be applied to the Morgan project or any other project this group would be looking at.”

Each project will need a unique PILOT, he said, because each has different infrastructure and funding requirements.

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