Barre won’t get full financial benefit advertised by Heritage Wind with turbine project

Posted 3 October 2019 at 6:46 am


I sincerely hope that the residents of the Town of Barre do not believe the ads bought by Apex promoting how much money the town will have by accepting Heritage Wind into the community.

Apex is very adept at misleading the public and Town Boards. The term PILOT is Payment in Lieu of Taxes. PILOT payments generally pay only 25 percent of the value of a project. That is why companies like PILOTs so much and will often not move forward without a PILOT. So, from the outset there is a huge loss of taxes for the town. But that is only the beginning.

Apex makes it seem that all of the funds will benefit the town but that is not so. PILOTs are negotiated by the county’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) or Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and that is how they fund their staff and offices. So they take a large chunk of any PILOT.

The school district, or perhaps school districts, take a large portion of the PILOT money because students from the town of Barre attend one of four districts. (The Heritage Wind documentation (PSS) indicates school districts – plural.) However, PILOTs mess up limitations set by the state tax cap and will cause additional problems if and when it goes into effect and when it ends. So the New York State School boards Association has taken a stand against schools accepting PILOT payments.

The Orleans County IDA lists pilot payments to both villages and towns with the villages taking a greater share of PILOT payments than the towns. Whether any villages will receive any PILOT payments from Heritage Wind is unknown but must be considered.

In the 2018 Orleans County Economic Development Agency’s IDA report of PILOT payments, the schools received almost half of the PILOT monies (48%), the county received almost a quarter of the PILOT monies (23%), towns received just less than 10 percent of PILOT payments and villages were paid almost a fifth of the PILOT monies (19%). So, the town gets the last and smallest share of a PILOT payment.

But that is not the end of the Apex deception. This payment is over the life of the project – proposed to be 15 years or so. So instead of considering the advertised $35 million benefit to the town, consider $2.33 million each year divided among the EDA, school districts and the town [(and or village(s)].

How much will be left each year for the town’s benefit? It will certainly be less than a third perhaps much less and what will you be trading away to get it? And why does the Heritage Wind logo only show a tractor – not a wind turbine in sight?

Elizabeth Wolanyk