Some tax breaks could be subject to community input
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency board is considering a policy to seek input from affected municipalities before voting on tax breaks for student or senior citizen housing projects.
The policy proposal, discussed by the board at a Wednesday morning meeting, comes of the heels of the agency board and New Paltz officials differing sharply over tax incentives for the proposed Park Point student housing complex near SUNY New Paltz, a project that ultimately was withdrawn.
Board Chairman Michael Horodyski said the language in the proposed policy, which still is subject to a public hearing and a vote by the board, provides an “opportunity that you’re going to get some consideration to offset the cost of community services as opposed to getting a building, housing 400 students and no consideration.”
The proposal states the Industrial Development Agency will not set terms with a developer for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. or PILOT, agreement until “after seeking input from all affected taxing jurisdictions and the community where the project resides.”
Park Point, proposed by western New York developer Wilmorite, was to be built on 42 acres near the SUNY New Paltz campus and comprise 228 apartments for students and 30 units for college staff.
Town of New Paltz officials voted to allow the project — but only if it wasn’t granted a PILOT deal by the Industrial Development Agency. After the tax deal was granted, a court ruled the town had the right to block the project on those grounds.
Industrial Development Agency board member Randall Leverette expressed concern Wednesday about senior citizen housing and college apartments being grouped in the same policy.
“To me, there’s no comparison [between senior housing and] ... putting a dormitory on a tax-exempt property for students who are not going to be paying taxes [but] using services,” said Leverette, a New Paltz resident. “That’s the disconnect for me.”
Board member Michael Bernholz said the agency should do what it can to help SUNY New Paltz.
“We’re supposed to foster creation and attract new businesses,” he said. “... I look at the college as a very important business to Ulster County ... an economic engine. It’s one of the largest employers. So to me, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re supposed to help those employers and those entities stay in business and grow.”
Leverette responded that while SUNY New Paltz is a large employer, it “takes its toll on where I live.”
He also said senior housing is less likely to generate police calls that student housing.
A date and location for the public hearing on the proposed policy have not yet been set.