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GE’s decade of tax litigation ends

County, Rotterdam and Schalmont approve agreement with 10-year PILOT

Rotterdam Supervisor Harry Buffardi on Wednesday, June 20, signs the official agreement with General Electric to bring an end to years of tax litigation and establish a PILOT agreement for the company’s properties.

Rotterdam Supervisor Harry Buffardi on Wednesday, June 20, signs the official agreement with General Electric to bring an end to years of tax litigation and establish a PILOT agreement for the company’s properties. Photo by John Purcell.

— County Legislature Minority Leader James Buhrmaster, R-Glenville, also commended county, town and school officials for working together to reach an agreement.

“This is absolutely incredible to be able to get these parties together and work something out for this long,” Buhrmaster said.

Buhrmaster asked how this would affect the county and town under the state mandated tax cap, but County Commissioner of Finance Deborah Mancini said there would be no ill affect.

“We ran it through the tax cap calculations and it should have no negative affect at all on the tax cap calculation,” Mancini said.

County Manager Kathleen Rooney said having an established, steady line of revenue is important within tax cap restrictions.

Also, Gillen said the ongoing litigation had left Rotterdam in the cold, while GE invested $200 million between its Schenectady and Niskayuna properties since 2004.

“From an economic development point of view; rule one is you don’t sue your biggest employer every year,” Gillen said. “You work with your biggest employer.”

Rotterdam Councilman Robert Godlewski was the only elected official who was vocal against the agreement.

Godlewski said he never received any of the information before meeting with Buffardi on Tuesday, June 19, and said he was never asked to be involved with negotiations. The Town Board announced the special meeting to vote on the agreement on Monday, June 18.

“They have worked on this document for probably a month and a half and I find it very unfortunate that I sit here as a Town Board member and I’m asked to make a $6 million decision and I am not given the common courtesy of having somebody explain this document,” Godlewski said.

Buffardi after the meeting confirmed Godlewski was not included in negotiations.

Godlewski asked several questions about the agreement, with county and town officials addressing his concerns, but after about 30 minutes of discussion Buffardi accused Godlewski of trying to filibuster the resolution.

Godlewski continued to pan the agreement, and said he doesn’t want to be “preached to” about GE.

“I was down there in 1985 when they tore down 40 buildings,” Godlewski said emotionally. “I saw 15,000 people go out the gate and I was one of the them.”

Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder then asked Godlewski if his opposition was personal, but Godlewski said it wasn’t.

“GE is going to do what they want to do,” Godlewski said.

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