MAMAKATING — During their most recent board meeting earlier this month, Councilmembers in Mamakating authorized the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to enter in a …
MAMAKATING — During their most recent board meeting earlier this month, Councilmembers in Mamakating authorized the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to enter in a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreement with Delaware River Solar and Mamakating for the next 20 years.
The PILOT agreement has been the subject of debate over the last few meetings since IDA general counsel Walter Garigliano and Executive Director Jennifer Flad put on a presentation about the PILOT program.
Rich Winter, co-owner of Delaware River Solar also attended the presentation.
Currently, Delaware River Solar is developing a solar field near the Wurtsboro airport that has been approved by the planning board, and its financial success is dependent on PILOT programs that the IDA provides.
Proponents say the PILOT program will reduce tax uncertainty on local municipalities. Garigliano explained how property taxes work and explained that the property for the proposed solar field is “on the high end.”
New York State adopted tax exemptions for solar, wind and farm waste projects in 1977 and updated them in 1995.
Typically, Garigliano explained, the exemption lasts for 15 years but can be extended to 20 years, and these exemptions are a part of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Renew Energy Vision” Initiative to reach 50 percent of state electricity to be fueled by renewable energy sources by 2030.
Currently, Garigliano estimates that New York State is halfway to that goal due to these programs.
According to Garigliano, the benefit is that depending on the territory the project belongs to (NYSEG, Orange and Rockland, and Central Hudson), the solar farm will be able to make an annual payment instead of the full tax amount to the IDA. The funds will then be distributed to the county, the town and the school district.
Garigliano estimated a payment of $8,500 per megawatt for Mamakating’s Solar Project, and each megawatt generated should power two hundred single family residences.
The vote had been tabled until the March 15 meeting and was the subject of concern for some residents. Kent Findlay asked the board what the benefit of the PILOT program was for the individual in Mamakating. Findlay stated that presentation did not “tell us anything” and it was difficult to understand.
He asserted that the board probably did not understand the entirety of the presentation either to which Town Supervisor Mike Robbins replied, “some parts.”
Supervisor Robbins explained the advantages of going with the Sullivan County IDA instead of trying to pursue one with the town for 15 years. Robbins stated that it would cost the town much more money in lawyer fees, and the probability of the town’s agreement being accepted was slim because Delaware River Solar wanted to go with the County’s program.
The board was slow to provide a first motion, but the first and second motion were made, and the board voted to approve the IDA’s PILOT Program unanimously.
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