Rochester developer denied bailout by Greece School Board

September 12, 2018 05:25 PM

On Tuesday, the Greece Central School District's school board unanimously voted down a new pilot and tax break to benefit The Mall at Greece Ridge. 

"We are in the business of educating children and I would like us to use that money and revenue for things such as full-day kindergarten or pre-K," said boardmember Dr. Sherita Traywick.  

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Back in July, Wilmorite asked to pay $6.2-million less in school taxes over the next decade saying it needed a new deal to keep the mall sustainable.

But according to the school board president, Wilmorite declined to answer a number of basic questions about the tax break including where the money would go and what new businesses would be coming to the mall.

"They didn't answer many of our requests for information that would have helped us make a reasonable decision or different decision so that solidified the vote," said Board President Sean McCabe at Tuesday night's meeting. 

The request follows a 25-year tax deal that was renegotiated back in 2013. 

"That's my transportation budget for afterschool athletics; that's like 30 or 40 teachers; it's significant," said McCabe. 

The board president also tells News10NBC "several hundred people" contacted the board against the decision. 

Wilmorite has made requests for tax breaks for The Mall at Greece Ridge from the town and county. 

Those decisions are still up in the air. 

The company already renegotiated deals for Eastview Mall, Marketplace Mall and is currently pushing Governor Andrew Cuomo for a tax break for del Lago Casino.

Dennis Wilmot was at Tuesday's meeting but left before News10NBC could ask for comment. 

A spokesperson of Wilmorite released the following statement Wednesday regarding Tuesday's meeting: 

"While the outcome of last night’s vote was a setback, it does not eliminate the need for an amendment to the PILOT.  We are very aware and deferential to the budgetary constraints and challenges all school districts face, including Greece. We respectfully disagree that the school district would not receive a ‘return on its investment’ by agreeing to the modification.

The benefits of this assistance will be far more profound in the long term by stabilizing and growing commercial property tax values along the Ridge. The alternative may ultimately cost the district considerably more than what has been requested.  

We intend to continue dialogue with the respective taxing jurisdictions in the hope a compromise can be reached.  If there was one thing we all agree upon, it’s the importance of keeping the mall and W. Ridge retail corridor prosperous for many years to come." 


Beth Cefalu

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