Kendall residents and officials state opposition to Troutburg tax breaks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Kendall Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata (back to crowd) stands and tells Jim Whipple, chief executive officer of the Orleans Economic Development Agency, that Cammarata opposes any property tax breaks for a residential project along the lake at a former Salvation Army Camp.

KENDALL – Town officials and residents maintained their opposition to $227,000 in tax breaks for a residential project at a former Salvation Army Camp along Lake Ontario.

The Wegman Group wants to develop a 400-cottage community to be called The Cottages at Troutburg. Construction has started on a few of the cottages. The developer has requested a 10-year tax plan that would shave $227,777 off the tax bill for the 126 acres and the existing structures. The new cottages are not part of the tax break plan.

“I’m not in favor of it,” Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata said during a public hearing this evening. “They should pay their taxes like everyone else.”

About 50 people attended a public hearing at the Kendall Junior-Senior High School this evening. The Orleans Economic Development Agency also had a hearing on Jan. 15 about the Troutburg proposal when residents criticized the tax abatement plan. The EDA board is scheduled to vote on the tax incentives on Feb. 14 at 8 a.m. at 121 North Main St., Albion.

There were 11 speakers at today’s public hearing and they all opposed the tax breaks. The plan would give the Wegman Group 100 percent off of the taxes for the first year on a $1.3 million assessment.

Each following year another 10 percent of the tax bill will be added until the full amount is billed after 10 years. The developer would get a $41,414 tax break the first year and would then pay $4,141 the second year with another $4,141 added until it’s at full value. The school district accounts for 54 percent of the tax bill, followed by the county at 32 percent, and the town at 14 percent.

The agreement would require the developers to pay $186,363 in taxes over 10 years on the land, with the new cottages boosting the tax base. If it’s fully built, the site could increase the tax base by about $30 million.

Town Councilman Bruce Newell would like to see the tax incentives only offered once the Wegman Group meets targets for the project, such as when the staff is hired for 13 jobs, or when there are 50 cottages, and then 50 more. With each benchmark met, the developer could get 5 percent off the taxes, Newell suggested.

He would prefer the company pay the full shot of taxes.

“It’s the principle,” he said after the hearing. “It’s corporate welfare. Why would you do that when you have the economic conditions that we have in Orleans County?”

Resident Kim Gillett said the Wegman Group should pay its fair share of taxes. She said the cottages and land already seems to be assessed at a discount, compared to the big tax bills for other homes along the lakefront. She said her tax bill for a 1,300-square-foot home along the lake is $6,000 a year.

“It’s outrageous that the Wegman Group would trade goodwill with the town, their civic responsibility, and the support of a generation of school children for a mere $41,000 per year,” Gillett said. “It’s even more disheartening that the EDA board seems to think this is a good deal for this community. Let the Wegman Group joyfully pay their fair share and be satisfied that they’ll get a lot for their money.”