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Massena town board approves SeaComm PILOT

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MASSENA — Town Council members voted unanimously Wednesday night to grant a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to the SeaComm Federal Credit Union for its upcoming $5.8 million expansion project.

The PILOT agreement will allow the credit union to receive a 90 percent discount on its property taxes for the addition for the first five years of the deal with a 50 percent discount for the second five years.

“After the 10 years, it will be taxed at 100 percent,” said Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who said the agreement covers only the increased assessed value that will result from the building’s expansion.

“They’ll still pay all the taxes they’ve been paying,” he said.

As is the case with most PILOT agreements, this one is tied to job creation, something that Councilman Albert N. Nicola said he was glad to see.

“Is this in any way tied to job creation?” he asked, before Councilman John F. Macaulay noted the resolution calls for the project to create 50 construction jobs, retain 106 jobs and create 18 full-time jobs.

Mr. Gray said given the success SeaComm has enjoyed over the years, he questioned SeaComm CEO Scott Wilson on why a PILOT agreement was needed, noting he told Mr. Wilson, “You can certainly afford to pay the taxes.”

Mr. Wilson said while that was the case, a PILOT agreement would allow the credit union to speed up the hiring process.

Mr. Gray said he was told, “We’re going to create jobs, but we could create them faster if we didn’t have to pay the extra taxes.”

Mr. Gray also noted the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency said the PILOT was not essential for SeaComm to complete the project, so he asked, “If they’re going to do this anyway, why do they need a PILOT?”

He said he received the same answer to that question as he did the previous one.

SeaComm Federal Credit Union is planning a $5.8 million project that will expand its main campus on Stearns Street. The expansion project also will lead to the closure of its downtown Main Street branch and its call center on Andrews Street. Operations from both of those facilities will be relocated to the expanded Stearns Street building.

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