Deal reached on Kohl’s store tax break

HUDSON–Widewaters blinked.

The developer of the Greenport Commons shopping plaza on Fairview Avenue presented a new PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) proposal for a Kohl’s department store to the county Industrial Development Agency last Friday, March 12.

The IDA board voted unanimously to consider the PILOT application and set a public hearing Wednesday, March 31, at 9 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 555 Joslen Boulevard in Greenport.

The new proposal from Widewaters came in response to the IDA’s rejection last month of an earlier plan that would have kept taxes on the 35-acre parcel to the north of Lowe’s at the current undeveloped-land rate of $22,500 per year for 20 years.

At that time, Widewaters representative Marco Marzocchi said the Kohl’s company would not come to Greenport without the 20-year tax break. But in the new proposal that the IDA will consider, taxes on the property will rise 1.5% a year for 15 years.

In addition:

*Kohl’s must guarantee a minimum of 33 full-time jobs at the store. If the number of jobs falls short of that, the assessment will rise. If at any time the number of full-time jobs falls below 23, the PILOT terminates.

*The business must generate at least $90,000 in sales tax revenue the first year, and $100,000 each year thereafter. Failing that, the PILOT is suspended unless Kohl’s makes up the shortfall with a cash payment.

*Widewaters must provide “reasonable opportunities” for local contractors to bid for work on the project, and must document the bids received and contracts awarded.

Besides the property tax break, the agreement exempts Kohl’s from paying sales tax on equipment purchases, and from the county mortgage tax.

Several in the audience of about two dozen were displeased by the lack of hard numbers for many provisions of the PILOT agreement.

Kinderhook resident Doug McGivney, a lawyer and former town supervisor, told the IDA board that by his calculation the total loss of tax revenue under the agreement amounts to $63,000 per job. “We could give each of the 33 workers $3,368 per year, or better yet, use that to pay for… solar panel installation courses which will lead to living-wage, full-time employment,” Mr. he said.

Mr. McGivney also noted:

*The 33 full-time jobs exceed the ratio of full- to part-time positions listed on Kohl’s website

*Kohl’s Letter of Intent to Widewaters says Kohl’s “shall have the unrestricted right to assign the lease or sublet all or any portion of the premises.” There is no zoning code in Greenport to control what uses might be made of the property, Mr. McGivney said

*Contrary to the application’s claim that Kohl’s will “make available goods or services which would not, but for the project, be reasonably available to residents of Columbia County,” Mr. McGivney believes local needs are met now by Peebles, Ocean State Job Lots and Furniture Plus. 

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