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May 8, 2013

Blodgett tax deal gets city's OK

The Oneonta Common Council on Tuesday night gave a green light to tax-abatement plan for Newman Development Group, which proposes building a student apartment complex on Blodgett Drive.

The vote was 7 to 1, with Fourth Ward council member Michael Lynch casting the sole vote against the plan and reiterating opposition to tax abatement for the developer.

Newman Development proposes building Hillside Commons, a four-story 330-bed apartment building, on Blodgett Drive near the State University College at Oneonta.

The tax-abatement plan, which includes a 15-year payment schedule and other stipulations, now goes to the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency, which has jurisdiction to negotiate payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.

About 40 people attended the council meeting in the Oneonta High School cafeteria. Several speakers gave mixed views on the proposed project and PILOT agreement, and letters to the council also were summarized. Lynch’s opposition to the PILOT and his view that the value of the project was grossly overstated drew vigorous applause from the audience of about 40 residents.

The IDA recently asked the Common Council to work with Newman Development on a PILOT agreement. Under the plan approved by the council Tuesday, Newman Development would pay taxes according to a schedule based on a preliminary assessment of $8.4 million and with a 3 percent annual tax-rate escalator.

In the first year, Newman Development would pay $92,316 in taxes, and in year 15 it would pay $418,909 in taxes, of which 32 percent would go to the city, 11 percent to the county and 57 percent to the school district, according to the plan. In the 16th year, taxes would be $575,301.

Mayor Dick Miller said current taxes on the parcels comprising the site to be developed are about $11,000. Miller said city attorney David Merzig will review the PILOT, which he didn’t expect to change significantly under the IDA’s consideration.

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