Greece Ridge Mall tax break?
Posted at: 06/19/2012 5:43 PM
| Updated at: 06/19/2012 6:44 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
The Greece School District is pitting itself against the town of Greece over tax breaks for Greece Ridge Mall.
Mall owner Wilmorite is asking for that tax break for its 45-year-old mall. The plans calls for the mall to pay a modest increase in taxes over 25 years, but the school district says it could potentially lose millions of tax dollars.
The Greece School District says the deal that Wilmorite wants for the mall would not keep up with the rate of inflation and it could lose $6 million over 25 years. That added burden would then fall on taxpayers.
Mall owner Wilmorite says this isn't just for the restaurant row that's planned for part of the Bon Ton site. It's also to help other tenants, which is why Wilmorite wants a tax deal for the whole mall, not just the Bo Ton part. The oldest part of the mall is 45 years old.
Wilmorite made its pitch at Tuesday’s meeting of COMIDA, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency. Wilmorite wants what's known as a tax payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT agreement, would help the mall remain healthy.
Dennis Wilmot, Wilmorite VP, said, “What we're requesting simply is a PILOT today to fix the taxes for 25 years.”
Wilmorite Vice President Dennis Wilmot took offense that the school district attorney compared what Wilmorite is asking for Greece Ridge Mall to the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse.
Wilmot said, “I think it is outrageous to compare our application to what has occurred at Destiny USA in Syracuse. Destiny is the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of dollars based on PILOT increment financing package.”
If COMIDA approves it, The Mall at Greece Ridge would make what's known as a payment in lieu of taxes. The mall's assessment is frozen at $92 million. Tax payments would increase 0.6% annually for a total of 15% over 25 years.
The school district opposes this.
Joseph Shields, who represents Greece School District, said, “It would insulate this property from the tax rate and the assessment over that time period, and that can have a negative impact with state aid cuts to districts are facing along with state mandates of programming.”
And the school district says this tax deal wouldn't keep up with the average rate of inflation and homeowners could get stuck with higher tax bills.
Shields said, “Someone has to make up the shortfall or the money that the company wouldn't be paying.
The mall’s owners, locally based Wilmorite, say there’s no guarantee the mall value would appreciate the rate of inflation. In fact, some commercial real estate goes down in value. Wilmorite says with this tax deal, the town and schools can count on that revenue stream for 25 years.
Under state law, COMIDA is able to give sales tax and property tax breaks for projects that among other things attracts or keep companies here, or that create jobs. That’s why the town of Greece is supporting this payment in lieu of taxes request. It’ll create jobs and the town says keep the mall vital.