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Wilson disappointed by village’s rejection of PILOT agreement

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MASSENA - When the village board rejected a proposed payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the SeaComm Federal Credit Union, it killed any chance the credit union had of receiving significant tax breaks on the proposed expansion project at its Stearns Street headquarters.

In order for the PILOT to have been granted, the agreement would have needed the approval of the town, village and school board. The agreement has the approval of only the town board.

“Although disappointed, we respect the decision the village board has made,” SeaComm Chief Executive Officer Scott A. Wilson said. “We believe the IDA PILOT request fit the criteria for job creation.”

According to the agreement, the project will create 50 construction and eventually lead to the creation 18 full-time jobs, while also retaining 106 jobs.

St. Lawrence County IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly also said he respects the decision made by the village board.

“Ultimately they had to decide on whether or not to give consent and in this instance they chose not too,” he said.

Mr. Wilson said despite the village board’s decision SeaComm remains committed to its customers and its community.

“SeaComm’s 50 years is a testament to the fact we are committed not only to the members we serve, but the communities in which we do business,” he said. “Our roots are in Massena, and the headquarter expansion is just another chapter for SeaComm.”

The proposal appeared before the school board, who did not vote on the measure, last week. They were expected to vote on in at their next meeting, however, without the support of the villageboard it now becomes a moot point.

“We appreciate the support of the town of Massena and the consideration of the Massena Central School District in trying to help us partner with this community in job creation,” Mr. Wilson said.

Prior to the town board voting on the agreement, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray had noted he had asked why the board should support the agreement given that SeaComm was an already established company and said Mr. Wilson told him, “We’re going to create jobs, but we could create them faster if we didn’t have to pay the extra taxes.”

The PILOT would have given SeaComm a 90 percent break on property taxes connected to the expansion for the first five years of the agreement with a 50 percent break for the final five years.

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

Mayor James F. Hidy said the agreement would have cost the village nearly $138,000 over the 10-year life of the agreement versus a 485-b exemption.

Mr. Hidy explained that with a 485-b exemption SeaComm would have received a 50 percent break on property taxes connected to the expansion for the first year of the agreement. That discount would then decrease by 5 percent for the next nine years until the credit union would be paying its full tax bill.

The PILOT, he said, would bring the village $97,363.45 while the 485-b would bring the village $235,295 over that same period of time.

“We’re not in position to do it, I don’t think and I just don’t see this kind of money being left on the table at any point in time,” Mr. Hidy said.

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