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Fulton Agrees to Tax Deal with Cayuga Community College

The city of Fulton has struck a deal with Cayuga County that will lower taxes on Cayuga Community College’s new campus, but will see the college continue to pay taxes in spite of its non-profit status.

Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said this week that a judge ordered the River Glen Square shopping center’s property assessment to be lowered from $2 million to $1 million.  He said Cayuga County, which is responsible for the college, wanted a cut to $700,000.

Most of the shopping center is empty.  Only K-Mart and a dollar store are still open.  CCC officials have said K-Mart has a lease to stay at the center for at least several more years.

CCC is turning the former P&C supermarket into its new home.  The former store is owned by Cayuga County, not by the college or its non-profit foundation.  That’s why the college site is still taxable.

The college’s non-profit foundation owns the rest of the property, along with a 40-acre plot adjacent to the strip center in the town of Volney. The 40 acre site in the town of Volney that is adjacent to the strip center also belongs to Cayuga County and will remain on the tax rolls.

Woodward said the college site will be reassessed after construction on the college is complete.  He said CCC’s foundation will continue to pay property taxes on the portion of the center that is still operating for-profit retail businesses.

He said the city is talking with the foundation about a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the tax-exempt portions of the property.

Tax-exempt properties have been a source of frustration for city leaders in recent years.  They have said nearly half of the city’s properties do not pay taxes because they are owned by a non-profit organization.  Most of those properties are owned by the city, school district or other government agencies.

“The college is a wonderful thing for the city,” said Woodward. “But everyone that lives here requires some kind of service.”

City lawmakers approved — reluctantly — the tax agreement with Cayuga County this week.  All five Common Council members who were present voted for it, though Councilor Tom Kenyon said before his vote, “Don’t really want it, but, yes,” and Councilor Jay Foster paused a long time before casting his yes vote.

[We thank Margaret Spillett of Cayuga Community College for correcting our error on the 40 acre property purchased for future college expansion.]

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