There is something vaguely un-American about taking away from the duly elected officials the decision on who pays taxes. I think the phrase "taxation without representation" comes to mind.
That is why this matter of PILOT deals for housing projects is producing what the local paper terms "desperate actions for desperate times."
A move is afoot to strip local governments of the burden of approving enhanced PILOT agreements, and vesting that authority solely in the IDA or other agency authorized under state law to obviate taxes in the name of development.
The action is precipitated by a flap over the size of PILOTS for housing developers seeking to build complexes to answer a current "critical" housing situtation related to the increase in troops at Fort Drum and the resulting rent-flation for everyone in the Watertown area.
Economic developers say the electeds want to be relieved of the controversy and heat they take over PILOTS, although I am not sure there really is a lot of heat.
Lawmakers say the pro formas of these projects show massive profits for developers and that the scope of the exemptions is not warranted. Those on the other side say the development costs (sewer lines for example) on roads like Route 202 (The Wal-Mart Highway) are so high and the local town won't pay for the improvements, so a break is needed for the developer to do the work.
There are implicit claims the area may lose the affection of the Army and the golden goose that it provides to the local economy.
There are also subtexts like resentment over who is selling some of the land for the project on 202 and a scramble by lawmakers representing the Town of LeRay to get more construction in their part of the county.
Here is one way out for the electeds. The Drum boom fuels the sales tax explosion that has allowed local governments to make property taxes less and less a part of their funding of local government. Therefore, there is little harm to a couple of exceptions to normal PILOT guidelines.
I can find things about these proposals I don't like and things I do like, but having heard the briefings on housing and knowing that in life all things are not perfect, it's best to hold your nose, cut a deal and move on.
Watertown Daily Times JCIDA to send out policy that allows PILOTs for housing, approval without taxing jurisdiction consent