The Kingstonain tax-free deal for luxury apartments would pay no school tax

Editorial Board

This week, the Kingston Common Council unanimously approved general terms for a $30.6 million dollar deviated payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for the Kingstonian project. Although the Kingston Common Council may believe that the tax-free deal for luxury apartments is a good deal for Kingston, it is only one of the three involved agencies that will need to approve the PILOT before it can be implemented by the Ulster County Industrial Development Corporation (UCIDA).  The agencies include the Ulster County Legislature (UCL) and the Board of Education (BOE) for the Kingston City School District (KCSD). We anticipate the two remaining agencies will hold public discussions and a vote sometime in September and October. Write and call your representatives and ask when the PILOT is scheduled to be on their agenda and to explain in advance (and in writing) the impacts of a tax-free deal for luxury housing will have on your school taxes.

A wealthy developer will pay no school tax for 25 years?

What didn’t get a whole lot of traction during the Kingston council debate was the fact that the Kingstonian developer will pay nearly no school tax to the KCSD, and that impact will be felt by every municipality that pays into the school tax base.

In their PILOT application, the developers say that they anticipate minimal impact on the Kingston City School District because a similar project of theirs’ in Poughkeepsie has produced no school-aged residents. To further woo decision-makers, the developers are offering a $5,000 per year (for ten years) scholarship fund through the Community Foundation for the KCSD to use at their discretion. This translates into $50,000 over the course of 10 years in exchange for no school taxes for 25 years.  Another pittance in comparison to their school tax without a PILOT is a $40,000 payment that will be apportioned to the city, county and school district. If 60% of the total tax burden – or approximately $24,000 a year – would be paid to the school district, all it would take is 1 1/2 new students to wipe that out.

What will it cost us?

So far, the developers characterize their financial information as “trade secrets” and have aggressively sought to shield that financial information from the public. Without this important information, the public does not know what portion of the $57,885,000 project is taxable and therefore, has no ability to calculate cost or potential benefits to taxpayers over 25 years. 

Thought at a recent special Kingston Common Council Finance and Audit Committee meeting, City of Kingston Assessor Dan Baker said that if the Kingstonian project were built today, the full property assessed value would be $19,000,000.  Based on the 2019-2020 non-homestead tax rate, the school tax calculation of $30.10 per $1000, the school tax bill alone would be approximately $571,900 per year.  Assuming the assessed value fluctuates and increases based on inflation and cost of living from year to year, the uncollected school taxes could end up being a staggering $18 million dollars over the life of the 25 year PILOT

A tax-free deal for luxury apartments in Kingston will be felt beyond the Kingston city boundary. PILOTs result in less taxable value which requires everyone else to make up the difference. Municipalities that pay Kingston City School taxes include the Towns of Esopus, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties, Ulster and Woodstock.  

Take action  

CLICK ON THIS LINK to send a letter to the Ulster County Legislators that represent those living in the impacted communities and the Board of Education to insist that the Kingston Project developers pay their fair share of school taxes. You can also call your representatives at the numbers below.

A tax-free deal for luxury apartments in Kingston will be felt beyond the Kingston city boundary. PILOTs result in less taxable value which requires everyone else to make up the difference. Municipalities that pay Kingston City School taxes include the Towns of Esopus, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties, Ulster and Woodstock.  

The developers will be counting on the Ulster County Legislature and Board of Education in September and October to approve their PILOT terms. Will our representatives allow the developer to defer taxes for the school district because the applicant claims that there will not be school aged children living in the Kingstonian property?  By this logic, anyone without children in the public school system should not be required to pay school taxes. 

Education is a public good for which we all have a responsibility to pay taxes because we all benefit from an educated populace. Tell your Ulster County Legislature the BOE to reject the Kingstonian tax-free deal and insist that they pay their fair share of taxes for their luxury apartment and boutique hotel development. 

(Image above courtesy of Hasbro Monopoly)

Ulster County Legislature with constituents in the Kingston City School District

Mary Wawro (District 1) includes Town of Saugerties
(845) 246-1017

Al Bruno (District 2) includes Town of Saugerties
(845) 340-3900 (Legislature offices)

Dean Fabriano (District 3) includes Town of Saugerties and Town of Ulster (845) 246-2067 or (845) 389-5201

Brian Cahill (District 4) Town of Ulster and Town of Kingston
(845) 340-3900 (Legislature offices)

Abe Uchitelle (District 5) City of Kingston
(845) 340-3900 (Legislature offices)

Dave Donaldson (District 6) City of Kingston
(845) 399-8709 or (845) 331-8985

Peter Criswell (District 7) City of Kingston
(845) 340-3900 (Legislature offices)

Laura Petit (District 8) Town of Esopus
(845) 340-1293

James Delaune (District 17)  Town of Esopus
(914) 475-4342

Heidi Haynes (District 18) Town of Hurley and Marbletown
(845) 224-1806

Manna Jo Greene (District 19) Town of Rosendale and Marbletown
(845) 687-9253  

Johnathan Hepner (District 23) Town of Woodstock and Hurley
(845) 594-3141  

Kingston City School District: Board of Education 

James Shaugnessy, President
845-339-5262 

Steven Spicer, Vice President
845-340-1103

Cathy Collins

Herb Lamb
845-334-8844

Priscila Lowe
845-331-2298

Robin Jacobowitz
917-566-6957

Suzanne Jordan
845-339-0002 

James Michael
845-389-4746

Nora Scherer
845-339-3909

Next Steps: Kingstonian PILOT and the City of Kingston Common Council

By Rebecca Martin

Last night, the Kingstonian deviated PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement passed through the Kingston Common Council Finance and Audit committee by a 3-1 vote.

Yes: Tony Davis (Ward 6); Rennie Scott-Childress (Ward 3) and Doug Koop (Ward 2). 

No: Michelle Hirsch (Ward 9)

Recused: Steve Schabott (Ward 8). A recusal is an automatic ‘no’ vote.

There’s been some chatter about whether or not a recusal (not to be confused with an abstention) equals a “no” vote, and indeed it does. Here’s an example: During the proposed shooting range project vote in 2016, an alderman had to recuse himself because of a conflict resulting in a “no” vote. “James Noble said a recusal by Davis would be recorded as a “no” vote.” The same will be true next week when Alderman Schabot recuses himself from voting on the Kingstonian PILOT.

READ: “Kingston council president will ask Laws and Rules Committee to discuss proposed shooting range”

READ: “Recusal and Abstention from Voting: Guiding Principles”

Thanks to both Alderwoman Hirsch and Council President Shaut for asking the only real substantive questions during the meeting. The Oscar goes to Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis for his riveting performances.

Although the parking garage is the centerpiece of the PILOT agreement, it succeeded to move through committee even without a clear number and explanation of parking spaces that would be made available to the public (the developer stated that he couldn’t give the parking space variance numbers ‘exactly’ before making an apples / oranges comparison between the Uptown Kingston proposal and a project of theirs in Poughkeepsie).

Next Steps

The Kingstonian PILOT will now go to the Kingston Common Council caucus meeting on Monday, August 3 at 7:00pm where the full council will discuss the PILOT and what happens next. The public can call their council representative and request that during caucus, the PILOT be sent back to committee in order for all of critical questions that have been raised to be answered and put in writing. Without it, we won’t have a clear understanding of what the community is being asked to provide and what we can expect in return.

If the council decides not to send the PILOT back to committee that evening, then it will go on to the floor for a full council vote at the Kingston Common Council meeting on Tuesday, August 4 at 7:30pm.

Counting Votes

TAKE ACTION: We encourage the Kingston community to reach out to the following council members before August 3 to request that the Kingstonian PILOT either be sent back to committee or denied until all of the critical QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN RAISED are not only answered but put in writing so that there is a clear understanding of what the community is being asked to provide and what we can expect to receive in return.

In counting votes, the PILOT has four solid ‘yes’ votes that include: Ward 2 Alderman Doug Koop, Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress, Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman and Ward 6 Alderman Tony Davis.

At this time, there is only one publicly known ‘no’ vote for next week’s council meeting: Ward 8 Alderman Steve Schabot (who has recused himself as he works for one of the developers. A recusal is an automatic ‘no’ vote as described above).

The passage or denial of the Kingstonian PILOT agreement therefore hangs in the balance of the following council members:

Ward 1 Alderman Jeffrey Ventura-Morell
ward1@kingston-ny.gov

Ward 4 Alderwoman Rita Worthington
ward4@kingston-ny.gov

Ward 7 Alderman Patrick O’Reilly
ward7@kingston-ny.gov

Ward 9 Alderwoman Michelle Hirsch
ward9@kingston-ny.gov

Other Involved Agencies

As a deviated PILOT, keep in mind that the Kingston City School District Board of Education and the Ulster County Legislature both need to approve the conditions of the Kingstonian PILOT request before the developer can move forward with the UCIDA. The timing of this is anyone’s guess.

What we do know, is that the next Ulster County Industrial Corporation Agency (UCIDA) meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 12 at 9:00am.

Outstanding Lawsuits

So far, the Kingston common council, in their discussion about the Kingstonian PILOT, have not referenced the litigation that is pending on the Kingstonian Negative Declaration SEQR decision by the Kingston Planning Board.

However, in a recent letter (submitted on July 17) from the Law Offices of Rodenhausen Chale & Polidoro LLP by Victoria L. Polidoro, who represents several property owners in Uptown, Kingston, the UCIDA was reminded of the following:

The IDA Should Not Consider the Application Until the Pending Article 78 is Resolved

The IDA should refrain from acting on the application until the pending SEQRA litigation is resolved, as any decision it makes may thereafter be invalidated.

The IDA is Not Authorized to Grant the Application

As a threshold matter the IDA does not have authority to consider or grant the Application for the Project which includes residential housing units. The IDA’s Housing Projects Policy, which was reaffirmed on January 8, 2020, only allows IDA financing it limited circumstances. It provides that:

A. The Agency will only consider the granting of any “financial assistance” (asdefined under the Act) for following projects that provide housing:

  1. A project that satisfies the definition of a continuing care retirement community project under Section 859-b of the Act; or
  2. A project by an industrial, manufacturing, warehousing, commercial,research and recreation facility (as defined in the Act) that provides workforce housing for its employees.

Last but not least, the conflicts of interest

On January 8, 2020 in our letter to the Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules committee, we requested that Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman recuse himself from any decision-making pertaining to the Kingstonian project. Not only did he appear in a promotional video on the developer’s website (which they have since taken down) he has also delivered public testimony in favor of the zoning change (while opposing the call for affordable housing for the project and supporting the PILOT its parking garage). His testimonies occurred months after he had already declared his candidacy for the council (Daily Freeman 2/20/19: Kingston Democrats Choose Slate of Candidates for November Election). Because he operates an event venue, the Senate Garage, that is directly across from the project site, he stands to significantly benefit directly financially from the development which represents a conflict of interest.

An image taken from the video of support of Don Tallerman (prior to his run for office) that was featured on the Kingstonian project’s website. It was taken down almost immediately after the city received our letter on January 8 letter pointing out the conflicts of interest.

The Kingstonian PILOT: There is more at stake than just parking

Editorial

CLICK, SIGN AND SEND!  Demand that the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) require the Kingstonian applicant release financial data for independent assessment and to place a value on their PILOT request prior to any scheduled public hearing:   CLICK ON THIS LINK, SIGN AND SEND TO ALL DECISION MAKERS.  Please include your name, where you live and any additional message you’d like to include. 


What the Kingston community needs to know up front

The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) this week considered a $30.6 million tax subsidy to real estate developers in exchange for 277 parking spaces. In the midst of a financial crisis, the substantial loss of $30.6 million in tax receipts will have a profound effect on the community. A subsidy to the Kingstonian real estate developers for parking spaces means less money to invest in City schools, streets, public housing, and infrastructure. It increases the likelihood that already overburdened taxpayers will cover any fiscal gap with increased school and property taxes. 

What happened at the July 8th Ulster County IDA Meeting Regarding the $57.8 million Kingstonian Project?

The specific agenda item on the Ulster County IDA docket involved the question of a deviated payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) request for the Kingstonian proposal, a $57.8 million dollar luxury apartment project in Uptown, Kingston. If granted, the Kingstonian investors pay for the value of what’s already there and not what they improve for the next 25 years. The estimated amount of the PILOT subsidy under consideration for a portion of a parking garage is roughly $30.6 million in addition to $6.8 million in tax-payer funded grants.  We have not seen a parking assessment (an estimate of how many parking spaces the project will actually need) nor do we know the true value of the PILOT request.

After the developer’s joint presentation with the Mayor of Kingston, the IDA expressed significant concerns, and sent the proposal back to the pre screening process.  The deviation and the delay will allow the developers to go back and discuss the PILOT agreement with the involved agencies (City of Kingston, Ulster County Legislature and Board of Education) to confirm their commitment before returning to the IDA board in August. If the IDA is satisfied with the progress at that point, they will schedule a public hearing.  In the meantime, without the release of vital financial information, the public is unable to assess the true value of the PILOT.  To date, neither the developers, the IDA nor the City of Kingston has agreed to release that financial information.

What’s the IDA and a deviated PILOT? How does it affect the Kingston Community?

Read more…

Public Comment Procedure and the Kingston City School Board of Education Meetings

 

WHAT
Kingston City Board of Education
Regular Board Meeting

WHERE
Cioni Administration Building
61 Crown Street
First Floor Conference Room
Uptown, Kingston

WHEN
Wednesday, January 9th
6:45pm: Sign-up to speak (outside door during Executive Session)
7:00pm:  Public Comment

HOW
There are always two public comment periods during the BOE’s regular meetings: one at around 7:00pm (after the executive session) and one at the end of the meeting.  Parents and/or citizens who wish to speak can sign-up outside the BOE meeting room while the board is in executive session.  We recommend arriving at around 6:45pm to do so.

WHY?
It’s important to make it a habit to keep track of the Board of Education agendas and minutes and to address the board whenever there are questions, comments or concerns.
This month’s meeting will be important as parents and concerned citizens will be questioning procedure as it pertains the recent BB gun incident at C. Clifford Miller Middle School (and apparent other incidents throughout the school year).

 

By Rebecca Martin

In a recent article in the Kingston Times, it was reported that, “Concerned parents and community members are seeking answers from the Kingston City School District following a mid-December incident at M. Clifford Miller Middle School where a student shot a BB gun in a boys’ bathroom. School officials said the student involved in the incident has been suspended in accordance with district rules, but some are accusing the district of not taking it seriously enough.”  

On Wednesday, January 9th the City of Kingston Board of Education (BOE) has their regular board meeting at the Cioni Administration Building conference room located on the first floor of 61 Crown Street in Kingston.   Their AGENDA is available for review to give the public a sense of the flow of the evening. We expect tomorrow’s meeting to host concerned parents and citizens regarding the recent BB gun incident at C. Clifford Miller Middle School (and apparent other similar incidents that might have occurred throughout the school year).

There are two public comment periods, one at approximately 7:00pm (after the executive session which can sometimes go later depending on whether or not there is a lot to discuss) and one at the end of the meeting.  Parents who wish to speak can sign-up outside the BOE meeting room while the board is in executive session. If you are not able to arrive in time to sign-up, the board typically asks if there is anyone else who would like to speak after all the people on the list have spoken.  There is no sign-up for the second public comment period. A call for public comment will be made at that time, and attendees – whether having spoken already or not – will be invited to make any additional (or new) comments/questions.

Each speaker is limited to 2 minutes, though according to BOE trustee Robin Jacobowitz,  “…we generally don’t put a time limit on the public comment session. The 30 minute limit cited in the policy allows us to limit…but when there are issues that bring people out to meetings we want to hear what people have to say and try to be sensitive that not everyone can stick around for the second public comment period.”

Public comment during a BOE regular meeting is an opportunity for the public to speak and share their concerns.  It is not a time for dialog with the Board, as they do not respond during meetings – similar to public comment during Kingston Common Council meetings. Their role during the public comment segment is to listen.

If you wish to have a response to a concern, parents/citizens are asked to present it in writing after their public speaking with their contact information to the BOE clerk at the meeting.  This does not have to be a formal letter, as attendees often submit notes or talking points that they used for public comment with their contact info included.

Read more…