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New users pitch Vista buildings

Tax breaks said to be key to continued interest in Slingerlands tech park

— Two people spoke out against the project not because of uses, but because of the tax abatements being sought.

Developers are seeking sales tax and mortgage abatements on all the new buildings. They also are asking for a tier II PILOT agreement from the IDA, which is considered the standard for the Vista project. It provides tenants with 50 percent off their taxes in the first year, which diminishes to 5 percent by the 10th year of the agreement.

A tier I PILOT, which is what ShopRite and the two banks now being built within Vista were provided, is considered an enhanced agreement, with the tenants paying no taxes for the first two years of the 12 year agreement.

Bethlehem IDA Chairman Frank Venezia gave a presentation on the PILOT systems to the Town Board on Wednesday, June 13, to help residents and board members better understand the process. He said the reason for giving the first businesses Tier I status was to get more businesses interested in the Vista Tech Campus, and he thinks it worked. “There are more applications in the pipeline that will fit the intended use of the park, which are tech-type businesses,” he said.

Chris Kidera, co-chairwoman of the town’s Budget Advisory Committee, spoke out at the public hearing against the abatements. She said none of the projects really diversified the types of businesses already in the town to attract employment.

“Now I know you’re trying to get Visa off the ground … but take a look around,” she said. “They’re firing teachers and the town is struggling, so I’m not sure these are the best of times to create 10-year abatements.”

The IDA will discuss the applications at its next meeting on Friday, June 22 at 8 a.m. Venezia said if the applications are denied the developers can resubmit their proposals, but speculated they would most likely look to promote their projects in a municipality that would give them a better deal.

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