Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Just weeks after we all watched further plans of the Destiny expansion fizzle, there’s another developer looking for a 30-year tax exemption from the city of Syracuse. The Common Council cleared the way Monday with a 5 to 4 vote, which requires the Cameron Group to pay just over $64,000 per year for 30 years.
The land is owned by Syracuse University, so if the school built on the property it wouldn’t pay any taxes. If it weren’t exempt, the land would carry a tax bill nearly four times what the negotiated PILOT is calling for in payments.
“At the end of the day, what we’re ultimately talking about here is an effort to improve our tax base. We’re talking about the creation of a potentially new workable model for extracting from otherwise untaxable property,” explained Common Councilor, Khalid Bey.
But as strongly as Bey comes out in favor of this project, others on the council are firmly against it.
Common Councilor Pat Hogan says, “There’s no reason this meets any kind of criteria for any kind of tax agreement. It violates SIDA’s (Syracuse Industrial Development Agency) own rules for any kind of criteria, so this is a blatant giveaway to the well connected in this community and Syracuse University.”
Hogan says the 30-year deal saves the developer millions of dollars on taxes.
“My biggest fear, my biggest objection here is that this is creating a template by which we continue to not only continue, but make much worse the passing of tax exempting status to private, for-profit interests,” said Common Councilor, Lance Demo.
Those in favor of the pilot see it as a good model for the city going forward to guarantee tax money from groups that would otherwise not be required to pay any. The four story building would house the new SU bookstore and a fitness center on University Avenue. When the pilot deal ends the building goes back to SU ownership and comes off the tax rolls.
Common Councilor Kathleen Joy says, “It’s no fantasy what’s going to be built. That plan I mentioned is the same plan that I saw in 2007, so what has been promised, what has been proposed is exactly what we have before us.”
The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency has already approved the pilot deal. The mayor and SIDA president refused a request by some councilors for a revote because a SIDA member had resigned since its vote.