Rotterdam supervisor praises SI Group tax break

Rotterdam Supervisor Steven Tommasone called the Rotterdam Industrial Development Authority's (RIDA) 15-year property in lieu of tax agreement (PILOT) with the SI Group a good example of how the town does everything we can to create and keep jobs.

Tommasone, a Republican, responded to the concerns of former Democratic board member Robert Godlewski, at the board's regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Godlewski raised concerns that the public was not afforded a chance to read the RIDA's agreement with the SI Group, which requires the company to pay approximately $10 million over 15 years to the town, Schenectady County and the Schalmont School District.

As part of the agreement the SI Group no longer pays property taxes, saving the company about $1.5 million over the term of the agreement.

"Rotterdam has to come up with the shortfall on town taxes," said Godlewski, identifying himself as a longtime taxpayer. "Everyone, the town and the county are tightening the belt."

Godlewski was also concerned that the agreement with the SI Group could send a message to other area businesses that are unhappy with their tax rates.

"There are three or four other big businesses in this town, including GE," said Godlewski. "They could see this as an opportunity to get out of their certiorari."

Several businesses have filed tax certiorari litigation with the town. Real estate tax certiorari is the legal process by which a property owner can challenge the real estate tax assessment on a given property in attempt to reduce the property's assessment. Tommasone said that the goal of the agreement with the SI Group wasn't to set a precedent.

"I understand there's always a concern with setting precedents, but the issue is that this agreement is unique," said Tommasone. It affords something for the SI Group, for the town, the schools and the county."

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