June 20, 2012
Town Board candidate and former Bethlehem Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham, is seeking more oversight of the town's Industrial Development Agency after hearing the group provided three businesses building within the Vista Technology Park with 100 percent abatement for two years.
Under their Tier I payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, Shoprite and two banks soon opening within the facility were provided 100 percent abatement for their first two years within the park. The businesses begin paying taxes in their third year of the agreement and would begin paying the full assessed amount in its 12th year.
"Tax abatements are designed to attract desirable business and attract economic growth," said Cunningham in a statement. "Abatements for retail establishments are uncommon and providing abatements to companies that are already slated to move to the office park as well as retail businesses that will compete with existing retail in our town is ridiculous."
Cunningham is now seeking that all IDA public hearings be run in conjunction with Town Board meetings to ensure transparency.
Bethlehem IDA Chairman Frank Venezia said giving a tier I PILOT agreement to the businesses was meant to attract others to Vista and based on the amount of applications the IDA is receiving, the plan seems to have worked.