Concord project seeks tax abatements
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO February 22, 2013 The county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Board unanimously agreed on Tuesday to schedule public hearings on three tax abatement applications from the companies behind the Concord project near Kiamesha Lake.
The actual hearing date or dates will be set when a cost-benefit analysis is complete, said IDA Executive Director Jennifer Brylinski.
After the hearing(s), the IDA Board will vote on the abatements.
In the meantime, the application documents reveal aspects of what combined will be a $1.2 billion project.
The main resort would be built along Thompsonville Road just east of Monticello.
The $772 million hotel and conference center would create up to 2,600 jobs, according to the application filed by EPT Concord II with the IDA.
EPT is asking for a sales tax exemption on $3,120,000 worth of infrastructure improvements and a yet-to-be-determined amount for a real property tax abatement.
Adjacent to the hotel would be the relocated Monticello Casino and Raceway, featuring both a harness track and a racino. That part of the project, to be undertaken by Empire Resorts, would total $365 million, create up to 600 jobs, and include a 50-year lease of the land from EPT to Empire.
Empire’s subsidiary, Monticello Raceway Management, is asking for a real property tax abatement on an estimated $126,728,163 worth of land, a sales tax exemption on $15 million worth of materials, and a mortgage tax exemption estimated at $1,095,000.
The third part of the first phase would be a water park near the intersection of Thompsonville and Joyland roads.
Construction is estimated to cost around $152 million and create up to 350 jobs, according to the IDA application filed by EPR Properties (part of EPT).
EPR would lease the property to an operator who would then construct and run the indoor water park. Sources confirm that operator has been chosen but not yet announced.
EPR is seeking a real property tax abatement on up to $59,562,000 of property and a sales tax exemption on $6,250,000 worth of materials related to the water park project.
(The above figures represent estimates based on full buildout of the entire project, said the IDA.)
On top of approvals already granted by the Town of Thompson, the applications and related paperwork indicate serious intent.
“They’re extremely well-funded,” affirmed IDA Attorney Walter Garigliano. “... They have a huge amount of cash on their balance sheets.”
If so, then why the need for abatements?
“I don’t think they have any intention of going forward without them,” Garigliano later told the Democrat.
IDA Board Chair and Legislator Ira Steingart said a coming cost-benefit analysis will help guide the board in creating abatement agreements with the companies, but he too argued that Sullivan County might lose EPR/EPT to another area without the abatements being offered (though he added he has not heard of them looking elsewhere currently).
“I see it as a no-brainer. This is the largest project ever in Sullivan County and would create so many jobs,” Steingart explained. “... This is to make sure they come here, that they don’t go anywhere else.”
Brylinski added that the IDA currently does not base abatements on need, just eligibility.
“The law doesn’t say there’s a needs test. ... It’s not a question we ask,” she remarked. “If they’re eligible and we can help them, New York State says that’s a good thing.”
In other business
Elsewhere during the IDA Board’s Tuesday meeting:
• Shelburne Plastics asked for and got a third extension on its sales tax abatement. Garigliano and IDA CEO Allan Scott said the plastic bottle company aimed to open a Bridgeville factory to serve Boreal Water (the former Leisure Time) in Kiamesha Lake but ultimately didn’t get the contract. Nevertheless, they have continued their plans, encountering various bumps along the way, including a CEO’s replacement.
• Also with Shelburne, the IDA Board agreed to amend a PILOT (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement to reflect the fact that the company will not go forward with constructing a 10,000-square-foot addition.
• The Board also approved the scheduled termination of a 15-year PILOT agreement with the Swan Lake Hotel, which Garigliano said is now paying full taxes. Board member and Liberty Town Supervisor Charlie Barbuti abstained, as the project is within his town’s boundaries.
• Again with Barbuti abstaining, the Board approved an early termination of an agreement with the Neversink Steel Corp. (Liberty Iron Works), as the large house-moving crane the company had received benefits for has now been sold. The firm requested the termination, but Garigliano said it still created the five jobs required by the agreement.
“Those five new jobs have stayed on, even though the crane left,” he explained.