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Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg

THE OLD GREAT American grocery store on Sullivan Avenue in Liberty – next to the former Sullivan’s Department Store – is undergoing renovations as part of a new project called the Liberty Mall.

Certain Area Projects Gain,
Lose IDA Benefits

By Nathan Mayberg
LIBERTY — July 16, 2004 – The Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday which would restrict new IDA benefits to businesses located outside the Town of Thompson, and would remove benefits from several companies.
The resolution will be sent to all the towns in the county. Executive Director Jennifer Brylinski expects the IDA board to pass a formal resolution next month, after the towns comment, in order for the policy to take effect.
A previous proposal would have excluded benefits to tourism industry program applicants within three miles of a proposed gaming facility. According to the revised policy and members of the IDA, the supervisors of the towns of Bethel, Fallsburg and Liberty did not approve of the measure.
The document reads that “the Town of Thompson was of the opinion that benefits to Tourism Industry Program applicants within its town boundaries should be scaled back to exclude all projects within its borders.”
Furthermore, any new project inside the Town of Thompson will no longer be eligible for any tax breaks from the IDA, in accordance with the new retail sales and general abatement policies.
Brylinski said she believed businesses are coming to the Town of Thompson because they want to and do not need assistance from the IDA.
The resolution further states that “development of tourism destination projects in close proximity to gaming-related facilities will occur with or without financial assistance from the Agency.”
Five types of companies would lose IDA benefits as per its manufacturing policy. They are Food and Kindred Products Manufacturing; Furniture and Fixtures; Printing, Publishing and Allied Industries; Stone, Clay, Glass and Concrete Products Manufacturing; and Industrial and Commercial Machinery Manufacturing.
The amended policy calls for the benefits to be removed since “the county’s unemployment rate is lower now, and continued improvement is expected. Certain of the industries targeted by this policy historically create low-paying jobs, which are no longer reviewed as attractive.”
The new policy did not pass through without an unusual round of discussion among the agency’s board members.
Ed Sykes expressed a dose of caution in limiting benefits, including manufacturing companies in particular.
Vice Chairman Harold Gold believed the amendment was necessary so that benefits were not given to low-paying employers.
Furthermore, there was concern expressed by members, including Gold, that the agency had been lied to in the past by businesses stating they would hire more workers and pay higher salaries than they actually are.
General Counsel Walter Garigliano stated the IDA could tie benefits into wages in the future. The agency already limits certain benefits to businesses that fall below agreed-upon employment levels.
Liberty Projects
In Line for Benefits
The IDA unanimously passed inducement resolutions for benefits to the new owners of the defunct Sullivan’s and Great American in Liberty, as well as phase 2 of the Liberty Storage project.
RSS Realty Associates LLC and S & S Waverly LLC, a business group headed by Sam Backer, plans on replacing the existing buildings with a new mall. Work has already begun on gutting the buildings. A large portion of Great American’s front end was recently removed. The operators of the Liberty Mall have declared their intent to create 110 new retail jobs.
The owners of the Liberty Mall would gain benefits over a 15-year period from 2005-2019.
According to a cost/benefit analysis completed by Shepstone Management Company for the IDA, it is estimated that $7,500,000 would be spent in redevelopment – about $2,000,000 of which will consist of sales-taxable material purchases.
The report estimated $70,000 in county sales tax abatements for the project, $37,500 in mortgage tax abatements and $85,000 in state sales tax abatements.
Over the 15-year period, the project is estimated to generate $3,309,149 in property tax revenue, $3,497,370 in county sales tax revenue, and $4,663,161 in state sales tax revenue. Personal income gains due to new jobs and multiplier effects are estimated to grow to over $28 million.
The report also warned that “highway maintenance and other services connected directly with the operation of the shopping mall itself . . . are estimated at 50 percent of the combined village, town and county tax levy, well above the 25 percent to 40 percent found in several municipal costs-of-service studies.” Highway and other municipal costs are estimated at $1,471,907, and school costs are tabulated at $157,902.
Liberty Storage will add a self-storage building to the current one, with approximately 250 storage units and a 34,000-square-foot floor area on 9.36 acres of land. The property is located on Route 52 opposite Stephenson’s Garden Center in Liberty. The current building consists of a 34,000-square-foot storage facility and a 2,000-square-foot office and retail facility.
A cost/benefit analysis on the proposed project was completed by Brylinski. A total of ten temporary construction jobs will be created as a result of the expansion project.
Liberty Storage LLC would receive $25,833 in sales tax exemptions for their construction materials. The company would gain $3,375 from mortgage tax exemptions. Liberty Storage would save approximately $10,000 on property tax abatements for a total savings of about $39,208. Brylinski estimates a $500,000 return to the area in private funds invested.
The agency unanimously passed SEQR reviews, an important step in the environmental process, for both projects. The agency declared there would be no significant environmental impacts as a result of the projects.
The resolution will allow the IDA to move forward with the applications. Formal resolutions are expected to be passed next month, according to Brylinski.

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