By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — The Common Council gave green lights Tuesday night to a tax-abatement proposal for the redevelopment of the former Bresee’s store site and to a plan that adjusts ward lines in the city.
The next steps for each proposal will be separate public hearings yet to be scheduled, officials said.
At the meeting in City Hall, six of the eight Common Council members indicated they favored a proposed Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement between the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency and Klugo Oneonta. The 15-year schedule calls for 90 percent tax-abatement in the first year with 10 percent adjustments annually.
Carolyn Lewis, Otsego County economic developer and IDA administrator, told members that the IDA wanted the Council to be apprised of the PILOT before final steps were taken because of the significant contributions the city has made in the project, including work at the site, financial support and attracting a developer.
Mayor Dick Miller said the $6.2 million redevelopment of the former Bresee’s store building and property at 1 Dietz St. will be “an enormous, positive boost for downtown.’’ Klugo Oneonta plans to turn the buildings into commercial and residential space.
Council member Chip Holmes of the Eighth Ward said he wasn’t opposed to the concept of PILOTs but in this case considered the city’s support sufficient without tax abatement. Michael Lynch, council member from the Fourth Ward, said he didn’t support the PILOT agreement with Klugo Oneonta because the city already has “met its burden’’ and he questioned what the developer faced with economic hurdles.
Mayor Dick Miller said projections show red ink in the revenue column for the developer during the first four years.
Lewis said the PILOT is designed to help the developer with cash flow, not add to a retirement account. The IDA has taken into consideration the characteristics of the Oneonta market, she said, and the developers plan allows for occupancy fluctuations.
Several council members acknowledged that PILOTs are standard tools to financially assist developers and they supported the proposed schedule with Klugo Oneonta.
“We have an obligation to see this project through and help the developer,’’ Maureen Hennessy, First Ward council member, said. “It’s the right way to go.’’
Lewis said the proposed PILOT will be presented to Otsego County and the Oneonta City School District, the other two local taxing jurisdictions. The PILOT is subject to a public hearing and requires approval by the IDA.
Later during the meeting, the Common Council heard a report from the Redistricting Commission about changes to ward lines to meet federal regulations and as required by the City Charter. The commission worked with a consultant on revising the ward map.
Emily Brady, chairwoman of the commission, said the commission aimed to preserve the historic character of the Walnut Street, Belmont Circle and Sixth Ward areas. A major issue was college student populations, she said, but overall the preliminary final map doesn’t reflect significant changes in lines for the eight wards.
A public hearing will be schedule soon, Brady said, after which the revised map will return to the Common Council for approval.
The commission aimed to meet the principle of “one person, one vote” and address uneven population in some wards. The city hasn’t adjusted its districts in 40 years.
The project was required to meet the most recent census figures, Miller said previously, and must be completed in time for the next election of council members in 2015.