Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Plan Ahead

A week from today--on Wednesday, March 31, at 9 a.m., at Trinity United Methodist Church, 555 Joslen Boulevard, Greenport--there will be a public hearing on the latest application from Widewaters for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for a Kohl's department store to be constructed in Greenport Commons.

The original application for a 20-year PILOT was rejected by the Columbia County IDA (Industrial Development Agency), but on March 12, the IDA accepted an application for a 15-year PILOT with various conditions: the property tax paid will increase by 1.5 percent each year; Kohl's will guarantee a minimum of 33 full-time jobs; Kohl's must generate at least $90,000 in sales tax revenue in the first year and $100,000 each year thereafter; Widewaters must provide "reasonable opportunities" for local contractors to bid on the construction of the building.

For a retail business to qualify for a PILOT, it must provide goods and services that are not otherwise available in the county. Walmart and Lowe's were denied PILOTs because they did not meet this requirement. The application now before the IDA claims that Kohl's does because, unlike Peebles, it is a "full-line department store," but various people who have gone on fact-finding trips to the existing Kohl's stores in Kingston and Colonie report that Kohl's offers nothing that is not already available to shoppers in Columbia County.

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