The road paved by a $30.6 million dollar Kingstonian PILOT (in exchange for a parking garage): A timeline and next steps in October 2020

By Rebecca Martin

Community members who have been following the Kingstonian project’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) request have asked for more detailed financial information to understand the potential impacts (including developer’s “trade secrets” which are fair game for a public/private partnership). Others are up in arms that a wealthy developer who wants to create high-end housing and a luxury boutique hotel in Uptown Kingston would have the audacity to request a 25-year, 100% tax exempt PILOT agreement worth $30.6 million dollars. Nearly seven months after the SEQR process concluded (where the full value of public subsidies were not and should have been revealed), the developers publically revealed their PILOT request to the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) threatening the board that without their approval of the PILOT, they would not secure the financing that they need and that the City of Kingston was at risk for the project (and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant) to go away.

According to Rose Woodworth, the CEO of the UCIDA, the ground rules for a deviated PILOT (meaning that it’s not a standard PILOT under the unified tax exemption policy) include the consent of the involved local jurisdictions and in this case, the Kingston Common Council, Ulster County Legislature, and the Kingston City School District’s Board of Education.  She also noted that the UCIDA “…could, if it so determined, to move forward without the consents of the local jurisdictions.”  The process that Woodworth nonchalantly describes reminds us of the worst part of top down culture. It is not meant to be fair or inclusive, but only to provide the illusion of participation. Those “in charge” may override a decision if it runs counter to their desired and in many cases predetermined outcome. 

There are still steps remaining in the process for the Kingstonian PILOT, one of which is an independent, third party cost benefit analysis of the Kingstonians’ financials requested and paid for by Ulster County.  The National Development Council (NDC) was hired only last week as an unbiased third party. The report, that the City of Kingston should have requested last year, should be available any day now. If released to the public (and it should as a taxpayer funded study for a public/private partnership) we will be able to learn its legitimacy based on the materials the NDC has solicited from the developer.

Earlier in October, when Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced plans for this study, the Board of Education tabled its discussion on the Kingstonian PILOT until they could review the report. The Ulster County Legislature’s (UCL) Economic Development, Tourism, Housing, Planning & Transit Committee chaired by Legislator Brian Cahill on the other hand went on to pass the Kingstonian PILOT resolution to “…be fair to the developers.” The PILOT resolution appeared next at the Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee chaired by Legislator Lynn Archer, where they wisely chose to table the discussion for the same reasons as the Board of Education.

The next bit may move very fast, with the Ways and Means committee meeting for a second time this month on Tuesday October 20 at 5:00pm. If the Kingstonian PILOT is on their agenda and it is passed out of committee, it goes to the Democratic caucus at 5:45pm and most likely to the floor for a full legislative vote at 7:00pm.

We’ve laid out a timeline of all of the events that have led us to this moment that you can review below. We conclude with “what’s next” for the remaining meetings regarding the Kingstonian PILOT in October.  

The Kingstonian PILOT:
A timeline of recent events

February, 2019  – The Ulster County Industrial Development Corporation listed as an involved agency in SEQR  (Page 2 “Government Approvals”)

When the Kingstonian project’s Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) was submitted to kick off the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR)  process, the Ulster County IDA was listed as an Involved Agency indicating a PILOT for the project. We had thought that the value of the PILOT would be revealed during the SEQR process (and in hindsight, the public should have been told that without it, according to the developers, the project could not proceed). That information was never made available to the public and in fact, the developers and our city officials went to great lengths to keep it secret.  

March, 2019 – Camoin Associates Study  “We estimate that 100% of the…units would be occupied by households who would be considered ‘net new’ to Ulster County.”

The developer paid for an Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis study in March of 2019 by Camoin Associates. It’s where all of those perplexing estimates derived from that provided fodder for the developer’s missives. The study was never publicly revealed during SEQR or challenged by our Kingston elected and appointed officials. They went on to pass the PILOT terms unanimously.

October 9, 2019  KingstonCitizens.org requests that the common council uphold its affordable housing mandate and provide constituents with a full accounting of the Kingstonian public funds

Nearing the end of SEQR process, with neither affordable housing or the value of public subsides revealed, KingstonCitizens.org created a petition to nudge our council members to uphold the city’s affordable housing mandate and provide constituents with a full accounting of Kingstonian public funds. “Step up to your fiduciary responsibilities and provide the community with a full accounting of the public subsidies expected by the Kingstonian project. Ensure that all decisions requiring Common Council approval, including discretionary approvals and funding awards, have been identified and included in the SEQR review. “

Although the community succeeded in making the case fo 14 affordable units (after being told for months that “affordable housing wasn’t affordable” for the Kingstonian project), a request to see a full accounting of the public subsidies for the project went unanswered.

February 5, 2020 –  The Ulster County Planning Board: We want transparency here – what the applicant is asking the public to participate in as the project goes forward…in a public/private partnership, you should put everything on the table to fund your garage.” 

During the Ulster County Planning Board’s review of the Kingstonian zoning petition, the board discussed the Kingstonians’ request for public funding and lacking the transparency that is should as a public/private partnership. 

“We’ve seen a lot of positive economic data put out by the applicant. The negative declaration indicates a deviated PILOT by the UCIDA, meaning that it’s not a standard PILOT under the unified tax exemption policy and we don’t know what it will be. No discussion of the PILOT appears as the economic data released to date. We want transparency here – what the applicant is asking the public to participate in as the project goes forward.  The IDA has a matrix, and they are going to propose that the IDA goes outside of the Matrix. In a public/private partnership, you should put everything on the table to fund your garage. The board agreed that it should be included in their comments as it’s in the Neg Dec determination and therefore a part of the SEQR process after discussion.”

July 8, 2020 –  UCIDA: The Kingstonian developers reveal their Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) request for the first time telling the county and its residents “No PILOT, no project

“This is the PILOT! If the answer is no, then it all goes away. There is nothing to be built. The DRI goes away, all of that stuff (public benefits) it all goes away…”   – Joseph Bonura, Kingstonian project developer

On July 8, the Kingstonian developers accompanied by Mayor Steve Noble presented the Kingstonian PILOT terms publicly for the very first time at the July UCIDA meeting.  A 25 year, 100% tax exempt PILOT valued at over $30.6 million dollars in exchange for a parking garage. As parking now the centerpiece for the PILOT, we learned that the project needs would result in a net loss of public parking spaces according to the City of Kingston’s zoning code.  

When questioned by board member Faye Storms “…the plans allow for one space per unit. What if families have more than one car?”, the developers responded “…tenants are welcome to use the other spaces in the structure or (park) at the Kingston Plaza.” It was suggested by a member of the IDA that the Kingstonian developers PILOT for a public parking garage in reality half will not be used by the public but by their tenants.

July 28, 2020   KingstonCommon Council Finance and Audit Committee Meeting

On July 28, the Kingston Common Council Finance and Audit Committee met to discuss the Kingstonian PILOT nearly tripping over themselves in support of a $30.6 million dollar PILOT agreement even though there were critical gaps in the information presented (such as a lack in clarity on parking figures or the necessary variances). The resolution passed through committee with lackluster push back anyway.

Some highlights for constituents:

August 4, 2020  Ulster County IDA Governance Committee Meeting

The UCIDA’s recent process change is troubling for several reasons worth analyzing. Through this policy change, the UCIDA has empowered and entrusted itself to unilaterally give away $30 million to wealthy real estate developers during a pandemic irrespective of the judgements of the very elected officials representing the jurisdictions impacted by the subsidy. The IDA itself is an appointed body and, therefore, democratically unaccountable, making their rule changes and subsidy granting power all the more offensive to the principle of procedural fairness. 

REVIEW the agenda from 10/4/20
WATCH the meeting discussion on the policy change
READ our blog post “The Complication of the Ulster County IDA Recent Policy Change and Public Hearing Date on October 1”

August 4, 2020  Kingston Common Council meeting

On August 4, the common council passed the Kingstonian PILOT terms unanimously.

Some highlights for constituents:

September 10   The Village of New Paltz Pass a Position Statement on the Kingstonian PILOT

“PILOT agreements are harmful to local governments and school districts, especially now.” – Mayor Tim Rogers

During the Village of New Paltz board meeting, Mayor Tim Rogers called on the Kingston Common Council, Ulster County Legislature, and the Kingston City School District Board of Education to be mindful of the other neighboring 23 municipalities. “We all contribute and must continue to work together to generate sales tax revenue for our county’s approximately 180,000 residents. Kingston should not unilaterally forfeit property tax revenues via PILOT schemes while municipalities like the Town and Village of New Paltz, as well as high-need places like the Village of Ellenville, are expected to provide more than their fair share of county sales tax.  

Until the State’s Tax Cap Law and County’s Sales Tax Agreement are amended, the Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees declares its opposition to any PILOT agreements that result in a reduction of real property taxes versus full taxation based on a full market value assessment determined by local assessor offices.

Kingston needs and deserves it’s property taxes and should not be padding a developer’s profit margins at the expense of the rest of the county. Trading property tax revenue in exchange for building a poorly conceived parking garage that compromises uptown Kingston’s uniquely desirable pedestrian-focused character is also just short-sighted planning. There are better ways to serve more residents like investing in public transportation to more effectively support local businesses and serve community members across the county.”

September 15, 2020 –  Press Conference: KingstonCitizens.org, Kingston Tenants Union, Mid-Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), TownOfUlsterCitizens.org and the Kingston News host a press conference event in advance of that evening’s Ulster County Legislative meeting 

A press conference organized by KingstonCitizens.org, Kingston Tenants Union, Mid-Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists of America, TownofUlsterCitizens.org and the Kingston News. Their goal was to raise awareness about the $30.6 million dollar PILOT and to ask the UCL to reject the PILOT with a short film and speaker testimonies that included the Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, former City of Kingston councilwoman and Legislator Dr. Lynn Eckert, Kingston Tenants Union Juanita Velazquez-Amador, City of Kingston resident Larissa Shaughnessy and local comedian Duval Culpepper.

September 25, 2020  KingstonCitizens.org calls for an Independent, External Analysis to Review Economic Assumptions of the Kingstonian PILOT Before Approving $30.6m over 25 years

“The City of Kingston missed both of its opportunities to request an independent, external analysis of the Kingstonian developers’ economic assumptions. The first came during the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) that ended last December and the second during the recent common council special finance committee meeting in July.  The developers’ revenues which they call ‘trade secrets’ were not disclosed to the public, when the PILOT terms were approved by the full council in August.  The public needs to know the profit margin or the “trade secrets” in order to determine whether to approve the PILOT.” – KingstonCitizens.org

October 1, 2020  UCIDA Holds a Public Hearing on the Kingstonian PILOT

“In contradiction to what Dan Baker said (City of Kingston Assessor), PILOTs do not have a positive impact on school district finances. The school district is subject to tax cap legislation with limits the growth of our tax levy…when the new construction is under a PILOT, the growth factor is zero at the beginning of the agreement and it is not included in the growth factor at the end of the agreement. So the district’s tax levy limit is permanently reduced…the developers published a flyer yesterday that claims that the Kingstonian will yield its school district more than 41 million dollars in new revenue over 50 years and that is categorically wrong. The developers don’t seem to understand school district finances. They don’t seem to understand the impact of a PILOT on school district finances and frankly, the Mayor and the Common Council and perhaps Dan Baker don’t seem to understand the impact of a PILOT on school district finances.” – James Shaughnessy, City of Kingston resident

“I have spoken with several of my fellow legislators and we are all in agreement…we strongly encourage the UCIDA to engage an independent third party firm to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the Kingstonian project and to present the results of these findings to the various taxing authorities. We are currently relying on the people benefitting from the project to provide the projected costs of the project without validation from an independent third party who has the knowledge of these types of complex endeavors….we all have a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Ulster County and that an independent review should be undertaken immediately by a firm which routinely does these types of reviews for other IDAs.” – Ulster County Legislator Lynn Archer (District 21)

October 6, 2020  County Executive Pat Ryan calls for an independent cost benefit analysis on the Proposed Kingstonian Pilot Agreement

In response to the ongoing discussions about approval of a PILOT agreement for the Kingstonian project, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan issued the following statement: 

“Before a decision of this magnitude is made, the public deserves an impartial assessment of the costs and benefits of the project. Therefore, I am calling on the project developers to disclose their financials to an independent evaluator so that we can have a full picture of the project. This level of transparency is critical given the scale and impact of the proposed PILOT agreement.”  
– Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan

October 6, 2020  Ulster County Legislature Economic Development, Tourism, Housing, Planning & Transit Committee passes the Kingstonian PILOT resolution.

“At this juncture, I don’t think we should move on this until we get the results of the third-party review. To vote before receiving the report would be making a decision without all the facts.” – Legislator Lynn Archer

Following County Executive Pat Ryan’s announcement ordering an independent cost benefit analysis for the Kingstonian PILOT, the UCL’s Economic Development, Tourism, Housing, Planning & Transit Committee, chaired by Legislator Brian Cahill (Towns of Ulster/Kingston), passed the Kingstonian PILOT resolution. 

Legislators Cahill and David Donaldson (Chairman representing the City of Kingston) agreed that it would be unfair to the developer to hold up the resolution.

LISTEN starting at 1:23:00 to the discussion of the Kingstonian PILOT.  
VIEW the agenda

October 7, 2020  Kingston City School District Board of Education 

The Board of Education decided that in light of the UCL and County Executive request for an independent third party consultant to review the financials for the Kingstonian PILOT, they would not discuss the resolution until after they had reviewed the report. 

October 13, 2020  Ulster County Legislature Ways and Means Committee

The Ways and Means Committee tabled the Kingstonian PILOT resolution while waiting on the Ulster County Executive’s independent cost benefit analysis by the National Development Council (NDC). The legislators anticipate the study to be complete prior to its next meeting on Tuesday, October 20. 

LISTEN starting at 1:41:18 to the discussion of the Kingstonian PILOT
VIEW the agenda

UP NEXT

Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The UCL will host three important meetings on this evening:

@ 5:00pm: UCL Ways and Means Committee
Public Attendance by Phone (646) 558-8656, Meeting ID: 926 2320 1027

As long as the independent cost benefit analysis is complete with time for legislators to review, the Ulster County Legislature Ways and Means Committee may vote to accept or reject the Kingstonian PILOT terms during this meeting. 

@5:45pm (or immediately following Ways & Means Committee)
Caucus: Democrats 
Public Attendance by Phone (646) 558-8656, Meeting ID: 919 1913 5495

Whether or not the Kingstonian PILOT passes out of the Ways and Means committee, we expect the Democratic caucus will discuss the resolution further. 

IMPORTANT. PLEASE ATTEND

@7:00pm Ulster County Legislative Session  
PUBLIC COMMENT will be restricted to agenda items 
Public Comment: Dial 205-ULSTER-0 or (205) 857-8370 to be connected. Written comments may be submitted to the Clerk via email to: vfab@co.ulster.ny.us 
WATCH Live

We won’t know whether or not the Kingstonian Resolution will be on the agenda until sometime during the day on the 20th, and not knowing what’s on the agenda until the day of the meeting is not in the public’s best interest.

This meeting is very important to attend, for if the Kingstonian PILOT resolution appears on the agenda – it’s going to be the most important evening to use your voice and hold your county legislator (and legislature) accountable. 

We will be providing up-to-date information about the agenda on our FACEBOOK event. 

Thursday, October 21, 2020 @ 9:00am 
Ulster County Industrial Development Agency  
WATCH on YouTube

The Ulster County IDA lists the Kingstonian as a pending project on their 10/21 agenda. 

According to an email that we acquired through a FOIL request, Rose Woodworth, CEO of the UCIDA wrote on September 17, “It is my understanding (glad this is confidential email) that the School board is going to vote yes although they may try to squeeze more money from god knows where. It is also my understanding that the legislature should be a slight (15 vote) YES.  The applicant is looking to get all of this to move ahead very rapidly. They want to be on our October 21 agenda for our approval.  I believe the school board is “supposed to” vote on 10/07 and then the legislature is 10/20. Can we have this back on the October agenda with the assumption that this will be a yes? How does that work?  

Thursday, October 21, 2020 @ 7:00pm  
Kingston Board of Education 
WATCH on YouTube

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening.  We do not know whether they will be voting on the Kingstonian PILOT resolution, although they could be ready by then. 

Highlights from the UCIDA Public Hearing on October 1

There was good news (members of the Ulster County Legislature called for an independent, third party analysis as we did in our BLOG post last week. It’s the only sensible thing to do) as well as courageous and touching testimonies last evening during the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency’s public hearing for the Kingstonian project PILOT.

Here are the highlights. Click on the images to review each individual testimony.

James Shaughnessy, City of Kingston resident

“In contradiction to what Dan Baker said (City of Kingston Assessor), PILOTs do not have a positive impact on school district finances. The school district is subject to tax cap legislation with limits the growth of our tax levy…when the new construction is under a PILOT, the growth factor is zero at the beginning of the agreement and it is not included in the growth factor at the end of the agreement. So the district’s tax levy limit is permanently reduced…the developers published a flyer yesterday that claims that the Kingstonian will yield its school district more than 41 million dollars in new revenue over 50 years and that is categorically wrong. The developers don’t seem to understand school district finances. They don’t seem to understand the impact of a PILOT on school district finances and frankly, the Mayor and the Common Council and perhaps Dan Baker don’t seem to understand the impact of a PILOT on school district finances.”
Ulster County Legislator Lynn Archer (District 21)

“I have spoken with several of my fellow legislators and we are all in agreement…we strongly encourage the UCIDA to engage an independent third party firm to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the Kingstonian project and to present the results of these findings to the various taxing authorities. We are currently relying on the people benefitting from the project to provide the projected costs of the project without validation from an independent third party who has the knowledge of these types of complex endeavors….we all have a fiduciary responsibility to the residents of Ulster County and that an independent review should be undertaken immediately by a firm which routinely does these types of reviews for other IDAs.”
Justin Orashan, City of Kingston resident

“…my own concern, and the concern of an enlarged amount of community members here is the nuance of (those details) in the context of the given moment that we are in in Kingston…for anyone on this call who is housing secure or owns a home, if you’re not directly connected to the families who are really hurting right now, it’s really hard to understand how people are in pain and how this will not benefit all of our community, and how it will indeed hurt many of our community members.”
City of Kingston Alderman (Ward 3) Rennie Scott Childress.
Hold him accountable, Kingston.


“…a desperately needed parking garage at no cost to the taxpayers. These structures are expensive so the current project is an ingenious solution. A PILOT to support its construction is essential to its success.”
Sarah Wenk, City of Kingston resident

“Our schools can’t wait 25 years for revenue from this project to start trickling in. The developers own materials set out a 50-year timeline that is speculative at best, fantastical at worst. We are in the midst of a crisis now…our schools are facing huge budget cuts. The taxpayers of Ulster County are being asked to subsidize luxury housing for a possible benefit that won’t begin until after most of us are dead.”
Patrick Logan, Attorney
Rodenhausen Chale & Polidoro LLP 
Logan appeared on behalf of several property owners in Uptown, Kingston.


“I want to request that the IDA keep the public hearing open for…at least an additional 30 days to all for adequate public comment. Several weeks ago my office submitted a FOIL request for all of the IDA’s records relating to the PILOT application. We did not receive a response until approximately 4pm yesterday…my clients are in the process of hiring a third party financial analyst to review the information….to submit this analysis.”
Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers
(read by City of Kingston resident Jess Mullen)


“On September 15, 2020, the Kingstonian developers published the “Fiction v. Fact” document on their website which stated that “Developers and City officials are comfortable that the increased parking is adequate for peak demand and any excess employee and hotel parking can be accommodated in the adjacent plaza….Please review City of Kingston zoning code §405-34 (J.) “Parking space ratios.” Reading the code and using some simple arithmetic shows how the Kingstonian requires approximately 345 parking spaces (hotel: 34, apartments: 271, commercial space: 40). The developers also stated in their “Fiction v. Fact” document that “without the garage component, there would be no PILOT request as one would not be needed. The PILOT starts and stops with the costs to build, operate, and maintain the parking garage…If the project is only adding 75 (420 minus 345) public parking spaces — not even the 200 that the city asked for in their 2016 RFQ — the UCIDA should take an extra hard look at whether to grant a PILOT to build 75 parking spaces. Additionally, plans include charging users 3x more for parking ($1.50 per hour) than the city charged just a few years ago.”
Ilona Ross, Resident of Olive

“Joseph Bonura is a recipient of two 99-year PILOTS in the City of Poughkeepsie that will deprive that city of billions of dollars. It ought to shock and conscience of any observer that he has dared to come to Kingston and ask for a PILOT.”

The Complication of the Ulster County IDA Recent Policy Change and Public Hearing Date on October 1.

There has been some confusion about the process for the proposed Kingstonian deviated PILOT, regarding whether or not the agencies (the Common Council, City of Kingston School District Board of Education (KSCD), and Ulster County Legislature (UCL)) must all agree on the PILOT terms in order for it to proceed. The source of that confusion stems from an expedient decision by the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) to change its rules in ways that benefit the Kingstonian.  

Rose Woodworth, CEO of the UCIDA clarified the question about the process and the Kingstonian deviated PILOT in a recent email: 

  1. In general, the UCIDA has the power to grant PILOT Agreements (and real property tax abatements).
  2. In connection with the granting of tax abatements, the UCIDA has adopted a Uniform Tax Exemption Policy (the “UTEP”).  Under the UTEP, the UCIDA may grant certain levels of real property tax abatements to project applicants.
  3. As has been described both in the IDA Application and in media reports regarding the Kingstonian Project, the real property tax abatement being requested by the project applicant is a deviation from the normal real property tax abatement provided in the UTEP.
  4. As provided in the UTEP, in cases of deviations the UCIDA is subject to the following requirements:

(D) Review by Agency with Affected Tax Jurisdictions. Before the Agency shall enter into a PILOT Agreement that deviates from the policy set forth herein, the Agency shall (1) notify each affected Tax Jurisdiction in accordance with Section 8(A)(2) hereof, and (2) attempt to obtain the written consent of all the affected Tax Jurisdictions to such deviation. In the event that the Agency is not able to obtain the consents of all the affected Tax Jurisdictions to such deviation, the Agency may enter into such a PILOT Agreement that deviates from the policy set forth herein without the consents of such affected Tax Jurisdictions. The provisions of this Section 8(D) shall not apply in situations where the Agency holds title to property for its own account.

As noted in the above excerpt from the UTEP, the Agency is obligated to get the local approvals regarding the PILOT deviation.  And, as noted in the excerpted language, the UCIDA could, if it is so determined, move forward without the consents of the local jurisdictions.

In other words, even if the three impacted agencies –Kingston’s Common Council, KCSD and UCL — don’t all agree to support the PILOT and its substantial tax breaks for the developer, the UCIDA may proceed to approve this anomalous PILOT request on their own. In short, the UCIDA – an appointed and democratically unaccountable body – may make a lone decision to approve the PILOT without the consent of all of the impacted tax jurisdictions like the School Board. 

Back in July, the City of Kingston and Ulster County Industrial Development Agency received a letter from Victoria L. Polidoro, Law Offices of Rodenhausen Chale & Polidoro LLP.  Polidoro represents several property owners in Uptown, Kingston. The Polidoro letter informed the IDA that the law did not authorize them to grant the PILOT 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 in limited circumstances. It provides that:

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

  1. (1)  a project that satisfies the definition of a continuing care retirement community project under Section 859-b of the Act; or
  2. (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.

With new information from the Polidoro letter, the IDA appeared to hastily approve a revised policy change a month later on August 12 authorizing their agency to grant tax breaks to “any housing project, or any mixed-use project that includes a housing or residential component, that has received the prior approval from the governing board of Ulster County and each town, village, city and school district in which the housing project is located.”

The UCIDA’s recent process change is troubling for several reasons worth analyzing. Through this policy change, the UCIDA has empowered and entrusted itself to unilaterally give away $30 million to wealthy real estate developers during a pandemic irrespective of the judgements of the very elected officials representing the jurisdictions impacted by the subsidy. The IDA itself is an appointed body and, therefore, democratically unaccountable, making their rule changes and subsidy granting power all the more offensive to the principle of procedural fairness. The damage done to due process by public officials who pledge to uphold the public interests is deeply corrosive, undermining a sense of trust at the core of good local government. We should demand more from those who represent us. At a minimum, citizens should expect that governing rules are clear, consistent and fair to all parties. Any changes to procedure should never benefit one party over another in the middle of a highly contentious process.

To make matters worse, the UCIDA has scheduled their required public hearing on the proposed Kingstonian PILOT, on October 1st, prior to the KCSD vote, which may take place on October 7 (or the 21). The UCIDA’s public hearing is also scheduled ahead of the UCL vote on October 20.  By scheduling the public hearing before the other agencies (KCSD and UCL), the UCIDA prevents concerned taxpayers from addressing their members should either of the two remaining agencies reject the PILOT agreement for the Kingstonian.  The UCIDA members have effectively foreclosed public comment following the votes of those other affected agencies, precluding an opportunity for the public to question them and advocate for fairness. 

Take Action

Thursday, October 1st at 7:00pm
The Ulster County IDA public hearing on the Kingstonian PILOT will occur remotely. Please LIKE our facebook event to learn more about how you can participate. 

The Kingstonian Project PILOT Needs Independent, External Analysis to Review Economic Assumptions Before Approving $30.6m over 25 years

The Kingstonian is a proposed $58 million dollar project. It promises 129 high-end units (to date, rents will range from $1,500 – $2,850), 14 affordable units (with Area Median Income (AMI) based on Ulster County, nearly ⅓ higher than the City of Kingston), a 32-room luxury boutique hotel (across from the Senate Garage which hosts “…dozens and dozens and dozens of wedding events each year”), 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 420 parking space complex.

The developer is asking for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement where they will pay nominal taxes for 25 years; a subsidy worth approximately $30.6M, in exchange for a temperature controlled parking garage that will primarily serve its high end tenants and luxury boutique hotel guests.

Over and over again, the Mayor of Kingston, members of the Common Council and the developers tell us that Kingston needs this parking garage and that, with a PILOT, it could be built at “no cost to taxpayers.”  If a PILOT allows a developer to defer their real mortgage, property, school and sales tax, how does their project come at no cost? 

The City of Kingston missed both of its opportunities to request an independent, external analysis of the Kingstonian developers’ economic assumptions. The first came during the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) that ended last December and the second during the recent common council special finance committee meeting in July.  The developers’ revenues which they call ‘trade secrets’ were not disclosed to the public, when the PILOT terms were approved by the full council in August.  The public needs to know the profit margin or the “trade secrets” in order to determine whether to approve the PILOT.  

With two agencies still left to vote on the council’s PILOT terms, the developer is making another attempt to persuade members of the Board of Education (BOE) and Ulster County Legislature (UCL) to support the PILOT, with a public action form letter crafted without any real substance.  “The PILOT will provide tax relief and public benefit at no cost to taxpayers.” There it is again.  “No cost to taxpayers.” The developer also claims that “…they have worked with Kingston City officials and the IDA Board to ensure that the dollar value of the public benefits of the Kingstonian outweigh the PILOT at zero cost to taxpayers.” But without an independent, external analysis to review their economic assumptions, the tax paying residents of the City of Kingston and Ulster County will never know. 

In their letter, the developer claims “…that the benefits of the project include twice the public parking, 129 market rate apartments, 14 affordable apartments, 30 hotel rooms (when it is actually 32), an outdoor public pedestrian plaza/gathering space, long-desired public restrooms, 300 + new consumers to the marketplace offering immediate relief to the business district and generating much needed sales, occupancy, and property tax revenue, and an estimated 153 new jobs.” But the developer still isn’t able to pin down the number of parking spots they need for this project, even though the City of Kingston’s zoning code says that nearly 313 of their 420 newly created parking spots will be required to serve their high-end apartment tenants and luxury boutique hotel guests leaving us with approximately 107 public parking spots, fewer than the 144 parking spots that we currently have now.  Even with a waiver to allow them to provide less, there will now be an influx of people –  tenants, hotel clients, uptown businesses and residents all vying for parking.  They assert that the overflow can park across Schwenk Drive if their garage is full.  So why is the public being asked to fund a parking garage when they may be losing parking spaces, charged higher fees and possibly not able to find a spot to park in the temperature controlled lot anyway.

As for affordable housing, the 14-units that various politicians claim credit for was due to the hard work of advocates that pressed the matter and won. The developer ended up making the concession but expanded the size of their complex, making their original 129-unit project even larger, with a whopping 143-units in the center of Kingston’s historic uptown.  As reported earlier, it appears that the developers are following the Area Median Income (AMI) not for the City of Kingston ($48,186) but for all of Ulster County ($69,539) that could make those starting rents nearly ⅓ higher.  

As for jobs, they promised 40 full time positions in their application. However, 84% of them were based on a single person’s salary, at $20.73 per hour. This is insufficient income for anyone raising a child, and certainly not enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the Kingstonian (or nearly anywhere else in Kingston.) 

The developer claims that “…this project comes at an opportune time when our local economy is in need of job creation, both affordable and market rate housing, and sales tax revenue.  The project also creates an immediate economic boost from the construction phase and revenue from the new taxes that will be generated.”  But we know that the PILOT request is coming at the worst possible time, in the midst of a global pandemic, and when our local, county, and state economic futures are unclear.  In early summer, the City of Kingston, in preparation for a hit to their budget, began furloughing and cutting some of its workers. Tax revenue for Ulster County is unknown and the state may hold back state aid for the City of Kingston School District by 20%, while residents’ school tax bills have increased.  Our Mayor and Common Council endorsed the loss of revenue at one of the worst economic moments in the City’s history without requesting an independent, external analysis to review the developers economic assumptions to understand whether or not the immediate or long term benefits are worth the PILOT investment.

The developer says that “…this project was initiated by the City of Kingston, and is a true partnership between the City, School, County, State and the citizens of our community and that without this partnership the project is not fiscally feasible and the taxpayers will lose the multitude of community benefits and added revenues it brings.”  But in our opinion, a true partnership includes a developer who stands to make a windfall in the City of Kingston paying their fair share of taxes.  Some community members have asked if it’s even wise for a project to proceed when a project like this isn’t ‘fiscally feasible’ without a $30.6 million dollar PILOT.  The proclaimed community benefits are a temperature controlled parking garage (that the developer needs more than we do to serve their high-end apartment tenants and luxury boutique hotel guests), a couple of public bathrooms, a pedestrian plaza with a water feature, an internship to train their future $15.00 per hour wage workers and a walkway over Schwenk Drive. Is that the way we want to invest our hard earned, finite tax dollars?

As a public/private partnership, we think our community deserves more information before it decides on the $30.6 million dollar PILOT. We encourage our elected officials at the BOE and UCL to be responsible and request that an independent, external analysis is performed to review the Kingstonian’s economic assumptions to be reviewed in turn by all tax paying residents living in the City of Kingston and Ulster County. 

RESOURCES

READ: The Kingstonian Project will require 343.5 parking spaces per Kingston’s zoning code

CALL TO ACTION:

We encourage all community members to draft their own letters to decision makers of the Kingstonian PILOT asking for an independent, external analysis of the Kingstonian’s economic assumptions and the feasibility of a $30.6 million dollar PILOT.

City of Kingston Board of Education

jshaughnessy@kingstoncityschools.org
sspicer@kingstoncityschools.org
ccollins@kingstoncityschools.org
hlamb@kingstoncityschools.org
plowe@kingstoncityschools.org
rjacobowitz@kingstoncityschools.org jmichael@kingstoncityschools.org
sjordan@kingstoncityschools.org
nscherer@kingstoncityschools.org ppadalino@kingstoncityschools.org

Ulster County Legislature and County Executive

Chair@co.ulster.ny.us
vfab@co.ulster.ny.us
Mary.Wawro@co.ulster.ny.us
Albert.Bruno@co.ulster.ny.us
Dean.Fabiano@co.ulster.ny.us
Brian.Cahill@co.ulster.ny.us
Abe.Uchitelle@co.ulster.ny.us
Peter.Criswell@co.ulster.ny.us
Laura.Petit@co.ulster.ny.us
HLitts3@aol.com
MaryBeth.Maio@co.ulster.ny.us
Thomas.Corcoran@co.ulster.ny.us
Kevin.Roberts@co.ulster.ny.us
Ken.Ronk@co.ulster.ny.us
Craig.Lopez@co.ulster.ny.us
John.Gavaris@co.ulster.ny.us
Tracey.Bartels@co.ulster.ny.us
James.Delaune@co.ulster.ny.us
Heidi.Haynes@co.ulster.ny.us
MannaJo.Greene@co.ulster.ny.us
Eve.Walter@co.ulster.ny.us
Lynn.Archer@co.ulster.ny.us
John.Parete@co.ulster.ny.us
LegislatorHeppner@gmail.com
exec@co.ulster.ny.us

JOIN US. Please ‘like’ our facebook events to keep up-to-date on Kingstonian PILOT public hearing and potential votes in October. 

Thursday, 10/1/20 @ 7:00pm   FACEBOOK EVENT
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency  (UCIDA) Kingstonian PILOT Public Hearing 

Wednesday, 10/7/20 @ 7:00pm  FACEBOOK EVENT
The City of Kingston Board of Education may vote on the Kingstonian PILOT. 

Tuesday, 10/20/20 @ 7:00pm  FACEBOOK EVENT
The Ulster County Legislature may vote on the Kingstonian PILOT. 

The Ten Things We Know about the Kingstonian PILOT and Remote Press Conference on 9/15/20

“Say NO to the Kingstonian PILOT” is a remote press conference on Tuesday, September 15th at 5:30pm.  Get ready and CLICK ON OUR VIDEO LINK to join us and to learn what you can do.

Or, visit our FACEBOOK EVENT for up-to-date information on the Kingstonian PILOT process.

The Kingstonian is a proposed $50M, 143-unit luxury housing complex with a 32 room boutique hotel, 8,000 square feet of retail space and a 420 parking space complex. It also includes a walking bridge to the Herzog’s Plaza, which is owned by one of the developers. In exchange for closing a public street to create a “pedestrian plaza”, the developer promises a couple of public toilets. 

The developer is asking for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement where they pay no taxes for 25 years; a subsidy worth approximately $30.6M.

The Kingston Common Council unanimously approved the PILOT’s general terms. Although the Council may believe that the tax-free deal for luxury apartments is a good bargain for Kingston, it is only one of the three involved agencies that would be impacted by the PILOT and have to agree to the terms in order for the PILOT to go through. The other agencies include the Ulster County Legislature (UCL) and the Kingston City School District Board of Education (BOE).

A tax-free deal for luxury apartments in Kingston would be felt beyond the Kingston city boundary. Municipalities that pay Kingston City School taxes include the Towns of Esopus, Hurley, Marbletown, New Paltz, Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties, Ulster and Woodstock.  As a result, it’s not just Kingston that will be left with higher school taxes. PILOTs result in less tax revenue, which requires everyone else to make up the difference for a developer that stands to make a windfall in profits with a $30.6 million subsidy courtesy of the City of Kingston’s Common Council. 

At a time of financial crisis when the coronavirus pandemic has led to cuts in city services and jobs, loss of tax revenue on this scale could be simply devastating. The proposed Kingstonian PILOT deal could potentially harm the least well off in the city as well as hardworking taxpayers who already struggle to pay high school and property taxes while wealthy real estate developers get a free pass. For county legislators advocating for social justice in housing, services for the poor, and children in need, the PILOT should be particularly worrisome. While not all PILOTs are exploitive, they must be balanced against the potential gains an investor or industry may bring to the area.

There is still an opportunity to stop the giveaway that Kingston’s Common Council shamelessly endorsed. CLICK ON THIS LINK to send a letter to the Ulster County Legislature and say no to developer welfare and tell the Kingston City School Board that education is a public good. Everyone should pay their fair share of school taxes, including wealthy real estate developers.

The Ten Things We Know about
the Kingstonian PILOT

Read more…

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. 

Though 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.  

Read more…

Kingstonian Zoning Petition Back at Ulster County Planning Board

By Rebecca Martin

“When you read the negative declaration by the planning board (for the Kingstonian Project), they almost don’t seem to get the gist of that letter from the Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) relative to why there is an impact on the stockade district.”
Dennis Doyle, UCPB

On February 5, the Ulster County Planning Board reviewed the Kingstonian Group Development LLC zoning map amendment for a second time. According to Ulster County Planning Director Dennis Doyle, the letter was referred back because the city’s request had been submitted to the county during the project’s State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). With a determination made, the Ulster County Planning Board (UCPB) would take another look including at the new affordable housing provision.

The following is video from the meeting filmed by The Kingston News and brought to you by KingstonCitizenes.org. The blog image captures the required modifications and UCPB advisory comments.

RESOURCES

VIEW: Adverse Impact Letter from Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)
VIEW: City of Kingston Comprehensive Plan (CP)

2:26 (loosely transcribed) Kingston’s Comprehensive Plan and its affordable housing requirement is for any new or expanding building or development. It wants to abandon the Mixed Use Overlay District (MUOD) in favor of a citywide standard. The UCPB recommends it should be simplified and “a standard set of rules regarding the provision for all multifamily residential applications in the city should be promulgated regardless of location.

5:54 (loosely transcribed) Kingston’s City Zoning Enforcement Officer (CZO) rendered a ruling about whether or not the MUOD permitted new construction and if so, required affordable housing. The statutory language of adaptive reuse would require 20%. ZEO determined that it doesn’t apply. That if new construction is permitted, it does not require affordable housing. Really the city can’t rely on MUOD to provide affordable housing anywhere in the city because of that ruling. That’s a real problematic way to move forward if we are going to let the MUOD continue. The applicant has involuntary offered affordable housing in the project and if you do the math, it’s about 10% of the project.

7:41 (loosely transcribed) County recommendations. Overarching recommendations rest on the City of Kingston’s own planning documents. We find the map amendment to be inconsistent with the purposes of the MUOD and the CP. and therefore, it should not be implemented without clarification of the ability of the District to be used to issue special permits for new construction. Additionally, if such new construction is allowed by special permit, a provision of affordable housing shall also apply.

8:35 (loosely transcribed) Doyle outlines the county’s original recommendations: Option 1, To follow the recommendations of the CP and abandon the MUOD in favor of establishing City-wide affordable housing regulations for all multi-family development, etc. Option 2, To modify the existing MUOD by specifically allowing new construction under the special use section and add the applicability of the affordable housing provision to this use. This is more of a band-aid approach to achieving the goals of the CP for the more limited area of the MUOD. If you are going to amend the map, then you must amend the language in the statute.

9:53 (loosely transcribed) The negative declaration issued by the Kingston Planning Board addresses the issues of whether or not there is a material conflict with adopted plans or goals. The Kingston Planning Board said that they found no conflict. But they do specifically note the 14 affordable housing units is a welcome inclusion. The lead agency determination regarding the zoning petition and its lack of conflict with community plans and goals as officially approved is the critical question before the Common Council and before the County Planning Board. The Common Council is somewhat bound by the lead agency’s determination. But that bounding is in response to the voluntary inclusion of affordable housing as part of the project.

11:15 (loosely transcribed) The neg dec addresses something called community character and historic resources. OPRHP has issued an adverse effect for the project. “The lead agency determination regarding Community Character the zoning petition and its lack of conflict with community plans and goals as officially approved is the critical question before the common council.” When you read the negative declaration by the planning board, they almost don’t seem to get the gist of the letter from the OPRHP relative to why there is an impact on the stockade district….but they never succintinly address the tie in between moving the project elements down slope or cross slope to tie into the schwenk drive commercial area as compared with the traditional ending of that at the Montgomery Ward building or at the top of the hill.

13:16 (loosely transcribed) Required modifications: the place where we are as pertains to affordable housing. ZEO provision says affordable housing is not needed with new construction yet the applicant voluntarily provides it. If that’s the case, then the voluntary provision by the applicant should be enshrined in the city’s planning approvals – as it could be voluntary today and during planning approvals, disappear tomorrow. The UCPB all agreed.

16:47 (loosely transcribed) Advisory comments. As stated previously, the UCPB’s overarching goal was to provide for inclusion of affordable housing. The voluntary provision offered by the developer is offset by the ruling of the ZEO that none is needed. While the board will not require a specific change, the required modification is to ensure that the affordable housing element as offered is not voluntary and is enshrined in the City’s planning approvals in a manner that defines affordability. The UCPB’s advisory comments are to strongly urge the city to abandon the MUOD district and adopt a city-wide solution to affordable housing and its design; Address more fully the adverse effects letter from OPRHP regarding their concerns about district impacts associated with the project tying the historic stockade area to the commercial area along Schwenk Drive as part of any map amendment; Note the need to clarify or include lower Fair Street in the rezoning depending on its ownership/interpretation; Note: the inclusion of a deviated PILOT by the Ulster County IDA in a Neg Dec. No discussion of a PILOT appears in the economic data released to date; Appreciation for the referral by the city to the amendment and inclusion of the affordable housing.

The UCPB said that the rezoning offers the city a clearer recommendation or response to the adverse effect letter. As part of the re-zoning they should look at this, understand and reexamine and clarify the negative declaration in terms of why it’s not an adverse effect in regards to zoning….there are state monies involved here. The state monies will require that they clear up that adverse effect letter otherwise, they’ll run into issues with the state funding. Discussion regarding Fair Street ensued. SHPO calls Fair street historic in some instances.

24:33 (loosely transcribed) On the project being a public/private partnership. We’ve seen a lot of positive economic data put out by the applicant. The negative declaration indicates a deviated PILOT by the UCIDA, meaning that it’s not a standard PILOT under the unified tax exemption policy and we don’t know what it will be. No discussion of the PILOT appears as the economic data released to date. We want transparency here – what the applicant is asking the public to participate in as the project goes forward. The IDA has a matrix, and they are going to propose that the IDA goes outside of the Matrix. In a public/private partnership, you should put everything on the table to fund your garage. The board agreed that it should be included in their comments as it’s in the Neg Dec determination and therefore a part of the SEQR process after discussion.

30:54 (loosely transcribed) Why was this matter sent back to us? Because they completed the SEQR process and we asked that they do so once the SEQR process was done. We asked to resubmit with the affordable housing provision. One of the UCPB members felt the language needed to be stronger. Dennis was concerned about changing the language from before. Public/Private partnerships should be much more up front about what they are asking the public to participate in. So far, we have seen no indication of what the public is being asked to participate in. It’s like traffic or anything else. There should be more transparency as a recommendation.

The UCPB approved the items.

UCIDA Rejects Request for Meeting Time Change.

This morning, the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) rejected requests to move their regular meeting time from 8:00am to after 5:00pm.

Here are some of the highlights of the morning board discussion.

Several members challenged KingstonCitizens.org as having a large base but only producing a handful of letter requests and citizens before them on the matter.  Last month when the item was before the board, it was tabled for further discussion. This occurred right before the holidays in late December, giving the public a narrow opportunity to submit a letter of support for a meeting time change.

Ask even the savviest of citizens what the UCIDA does and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who can tell you. This is in part why we thought to pursue a meeting time change as a first step could allow for the potential of participation.  For those board members who attributed their rejection in part due to the number of requests as insignificant, it is a poor way to build bridges of trust and better relations with the public, particularly those who wish to be more of a participant in the important work of the UCIDA.

During the discussion, a citizen shared the trouble that he encountered entering the public building a little ahead of 8am, being stopped by an officer on the ground floor level of the Ulster County building. The chair of the board in jest responded “you don’t look like a terrorist.”

Another board member, perhaps in reaction to the citizens in attendance being Kingston residents, shared with us his insight that ‘there is a bigger world outside of Kingston”.

Citizens had some trouble hearing the board during their discussions in Legislative Chambers, where microphones were available. Perhaps next month, if the group meets in the same location and there are people in the audience, they might elect to set them up.

There were some useful points made to consider, such as the potential ‘overtime’ necessary to pay staff for evening meetings,  although this had not been mentioned last month as a consideration.  One could also sympathize with other members of the board who outlined their personal reasons as to why a time change was a challenge.  I was pleased that the board, on their own, requested to create palm cards with a simple explanation of PILOTs to be made available for the public in attendance.

In the end, my take-away was that the point was missed and that is, to include the public in new ways is a multi-prong process. Changing the meeting time should have been seen as a first step.  Outreach and making process accessible and easy to understand (transparency), another. Ongoing storytelling and communication, another. Participation, when it doesn’t exist, takes time and effort and the board has three Ulster County employees appointed to them as staff to help. That the public does not regularly attend this or any other important public hearings, board, committee or commission meetings is a failing of at least these things.

Thanks to those who took the time to participate. We’ll try again another time, in some other way.

VIDEO: Educational Workshop on Economic Development Services in Ulster County and Kingston 11/15/17

The following video was captured from yesterday’s City of Ulster County Educational Workshop on Economic Development Services in Ulster County and Kingston on November 15th, 2017.  Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to The Kingston News.

We appreciate the effort made by Ulster County’s Economic Development office and the City of Kingston Economic Development office to bring this together for the public in 2017.  We hope to see this become a yearly event.

The next Ulster County IDA meeting will occur on Wednesday, December 13th at 8:00am. On the agenda will be a discussion to change the meeting time to later in the afternoon (after 5pm) to allow for greater public participation. 

 

###

 

Video #1:  Educational Workshop on Economic Development: PRESENTATION
(Click on image to review video)

 

The UCIDA AND PILOTs: Accountability to Taxpayers and Citizens.

VIEW our Event Page for the UCIDA’s Wednesday Meeting

VIEW our Petition “UCIDA and PILOTs:  Accountability to Taxpayers and Citizens.

###


Citizens have voiced concern about a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Tax)
agreement and other tax incentives currently on the table for the ‘Hudson Valley Kingston Development (HVKD) LLC’ proposal in Uptown, Kingston.

According to their application, they propose to  “build four boutique hotels in historic Uptown Kingston. There will be 43 hotel rooms in total, with a restaurant at the 301 Wall Street location. This will create a welcome space for community events and gatherings, and stimulate much-needed tourism and revenue for surrounding businesses.”
REVIEW  HVKD’s application

Last week, the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) held a public hearing on the HVKD’s application. Very few members of the public were in attendance.

In our opinion, that’s probably because UCIDA’s process can be difficult to follow, especially for something like a PILOT agreement or tax abatements. Often, meetings are insufficiently publicized leaving many citizens in the dark.

Incentives are important tools in attracting and supporting business. Allocations of tax dollars in this context are governed by state law and to that end, there are real checks and balances here.

However if the public is not properly made aware of the opportunities that they have throughout the process, then only a handful of appointed officials are in a position to make decisions that will certainly extend beyond their tenure. For that reason alone, it is in everyone’s best interest for a transparent process to be a priority, one that will allow citizens a better understanding and to enter into a more robust discussion.

The next meeting on the proposal is to occur on Wednesday, October 11th at 8:00 am (in the Karen Binder Library on the 6th Floor of the County Office Building, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY).  To help the public proceed in an organized manner, we offer the following information and a recommendation for the public to make to the UCIDA board for their consideration.   

VIEW  our Event Page for more information on Wednesday’s meeting.

Background on Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) From the NYS Comptroller.

First, appointments to the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency are made via resolution by the membership of the Ulster County Legislature.  Members serve at the pleasure of the Legislature.  

The Ulster County IDA must follow State law, based on background provided by the NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the role of IDA’s in New York State are charged with the following:

“Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) are authorized to provide financial assistance for certain types of projects. Financial assistance includes the issuance of bonds by the IDA to finance construction of a project and straight-lease transactions. Because IDAs’ property and activities are tax exempt, the IDA may pass the benefits of certain tax exemptions (e.g., real property, sales and mortgage recording taxes) to the private entities that undertake the projects. The loss of revenue associated with these tax exemptions can be offset with an agreement for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), under which the private entity agrees to pay all or a portion of the taxes that would otherwise have been imposed had the project not been an IDA project. The IDA’s role is not just to act as the conduit for financial assistance, but also to monitor the success, progress, and cost-benefit of projects, including whether projects are honoring their commitments and agreements.”

In addition to making these decisions, the IDA must also provide follow-up on the projects where they have provided support.

“The IDA’s role is not just to act as the conduit for financial assistance, but also to monitor the success, progress, and cost-benefit of projects, including whether projects are honoring their commitments and agreements.”

The 2016 New York State IDA Law

In 2016, laws were put into place to increase the accountability and efficiency of IDAs.

“In June 2016, new legislation became effective to increase the accountability and improve the efficiency and transparency of IDA operations. For new projects, the law requires standard application forms for requests for financial assistance, uniform criteria for the evaluation and selection for each category of projects for which financial assistance is provided, uniform project agreements, annual assessments on project progress including job creation and retention, as well as policies to recapture, discontinue or modify financial assistance or tax exemptions.”

 

Next Steps in the process for the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC PILOT agreement and tax incentives.

On Wednesday, October 11th at 8:00 am, the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC is listed in the (Draft) AGENDA #12: Projects “Hudson Valley Kingston Development (Public Hearing held on October 4, 2017)”.  There isn’t information listed as to whether or not the board will be making a decision regarding PILOTS or other available tax incentives for this proposal.  Therefore, it’s important to make your voice heard now – and you can do so by

SIGNING OUR PETITION:  UCIDA and PILOTs – Accountability to Taxpayers and Citizens.   VIEW 

The County must carry on its important business for the residents of Ulster County. We also support and appreciate new business opportunities in our area.  However, given the concerns of the public, we request that any approvals of tax incentives for the Hudson Valley Kingston Development LLC be delayed by the board to allow the following:

  1. Provide additional public educational opportunities on the UCIDA’s process in assigning PILOTS and tax incentives to proposed projects, including, but not limited to:

    * The necessary documentation that is required as evidence that an applicant demonstrates a need for a PILOT or other tax incentives as well as to show that the applicant has exhausted all other available options based on NYSEDC recommendations.
      VIEW

    * Explain UCIDA’s Uniform Tax POLICY that, based on the MATRIX determines the Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) hourly rates assessed as per the number of jobs it will create.

  2. How the UCIDA applies recommendations to this, and all project considerations, provided by the Ulster County Comptroller from his 2014 report “A Study of the Impact and Best Practices for Industrial Development Agencies”, specifically:* Support only Projects which likely will not proceed but for IDA assistance;* Require market analyses for “retail” (and services) Projects;* Calculate costs and benefits specifically attributable to IDA assistance;* Give PILOT points only for jobs attributable to IDA assistance;

    * Interpret the cost-benefit analysis with care;

    * Require proof of pre-assistance employment levels;

    * Maximize public access to information;

    * Consider a scoring category for local support.

  3. The UCIDA’s follow-up procedures after-tax incentives are awarded.

  4. Additional public hearings to be scheduled and publicized for more public input.