Talk about pressure......
Looks like the deciding vote on the wind PILOT is District 6 Legislator Gino Zando and the lobbying is heavy on both sides.
Municipal leaders from the Towns of Wilna and Champion are urging a no vote as the exemption on sales tax affects those towns as it does all municipalities in the County. And its not just this one PILOT....Such exemptions are routinely granted for a variety of projects including the construction of a hotel in Black River.
Big Wind and the JCIDA are lobbying Mr. Zando to vote yes and the feeling was he would do so, creating a 7-7 split on the board. Then the plan was board chairman Blankenbush would cast the eighth vote in favor.
Currently six lawmakers are on record in favor of the PILOT and seven are against. There is not thought to be any way of swaying any of those votes.
The matter in question is not so much the property tax exemptions, but the use of the JCIDA to take title to property for the purpose of obviating the mortgage tax and the sales tax on building materials.
In non PILOT deals, these other exemptions are offered and the IDA collects a fee equal to 25% of the tax savings. In esssence, the exemptions redirect money from elected boards to the developer and the IDA.
This has become a routine practice and at a time when sales tax revenues have become sluggish....and most local governments depend on this tax more than the property tax.....opposition to such arrangements is growing.
One local official was told not to lobby county lawmakers. This will get ugly, he was told, and you don't want to be a part of it.
High drama for sure. I wouldn't want to be Gino for all the wind in Hounsfield.