About Those Columns . . .
By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY March 13, 2007 Wonder what those numbers meant in last week’s Democrat?
You know, the lengthy columns of “X” and “Y” coordinates listed in Tuesday’s legal notices?
Turns out you’re only one of several, many of whom have called the Democrat’s office to ask what the heck they mean.
Here, straight from the mind of Sullivan County Agriculture, Marketing and Economic Development Director Susan Jaffe, are the answers.
“Basically, Sullivan County’s Empire Zones were expanded, which is a good thing,” she said in her Monticello office Thursday.
Those deep columns of coordinates are longitude and latitude, she added, referencing every single boundary of the enlarged zones in Monticello, Liberty and South Fallsburg.
“They’re four contiguous areas that cover the Main Street corridors,” Jaffe explained.
Newly hired in December, Jaffe’s first job was to collate this data after the Sullivan County Legislature made it a law.
So what does that mean for county residents? Well, if you’re a business owner within one of these Empire Zones, you can apply for a host of tax incentives, from abatements to refunds.
The state program was initiated under former Governor George Pataki’s administration and has been a boon to the county, said Jaffe.
“In 2005, Empire Zone businesses in Sullivan County invested $41 million into their communities,” she remarked and that includes creating more than 2,000 jobs that same year. (Data on 2006 is still being sorted.)
Currently, 153 businesses receive Empire Zone benefits in Sullivan County. They’re subject to an annual review to determine if they’re realizing their potential, and certain businesses can be dropped from the program if zone boundaries change or officials deem the company incompatible with current program rules.
But Jaffe said most involved businesses generate $15 in community benefits for every $1 spent on their products.
“And we’re not losing tax revenue,” she pointed out. “Once they pay their taxes… the county is made whole by the state.”
The latest expansion of zones includes the commercial districts surrounding virtually all of Broadway and Route 17B in and around Monticello, Old Route 17 from Ferndale south to the Liberty/Thompson town line, and Route 42 from Lovers Lane into downtown South Fallsburg.
But just because you’re in an Empire Zone doesn’t mean you automatically reap the benefits. You have to apply through Jaffe, who takes it to the Sullivan County Zone Administrative Board for review, followed by a County Legislature vote, then up to Albany for state approval.
And what if you’re not in a zone but still would like some business tax relief?
“Folks can call me,” said Jaffe, who can be reached at 794-3000, ext. 3536 (or via e-mail at email@example.com). “I’m putting together a list of incentives available for any business in the county.”