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Speakers Oppose PILOT Plan

OSWEGO, NY – Four people took the opportunity Tuesday night to speak on the issue of exempting the nuclear powered electric generating facility (Nine Mile I) from taxation, special ad valorem levies and special assessments.

None of the speakers, including one board of education candidate, were in favor of another Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

The school district’s was the first of three public hearings on the issue. Scriba’s is set for this evening and the county’s will be held in June.

“They have already benefited from a 10-year tax exemption in a PILOT program,” Joe Hutchinson said of the power plant. “Already many dollars have been spent for the purpose of developing an assessed or appraised value of that property; that amount was about $600 million.”

That means, compared to what he pays, they should pay around $13 million, he said. However, the PILOT allows them to pay around $6.5 million, he added.

When somebody gets a benefit like that, someone else has to pick up the slack, he told the board.

“Those people picking up the slack are those that vote for the school board, live in the community, those who pay taxes in this community,” he said. “Those of us who pay a lot of taxes in this community. We have to pick up that slack.”

He called the proposal “corporate welfare.”

“I have to pay the full share (of taxes) on properties I own,” he said. “So, I do not support giving them this tax exempt status.”

Kevin Kehoe pointed out the company’s stock is up 45 percent. Their gross profits for 2009 were $2.24 billion, he continued.

The top employees make $10.6 million, plus stock options, he added.

The community has welcomed and supported the plants and “lived under the shadow of them,” he said. “We gave them a PILOT agreement so that they could get going. They’re going; they’re working well, they’re making big money.”

If Nine Mile I gets a deal, the same will happen for Unit II and the FitzPatrick plant, he said.

That would mean more than a billion dollars off the assessment rolls, he told the board.

“It’s ridiculous. I do not support this PILOT agreement. They should go on the tax rolls and pay their fair share,” he said.

Bill Dunsmoor agreed with both speakers.

“Over the years, I’ve paid my full share of taxes as have many other business people in Oswego,” he said. “That plant should pay the tax on what it’s been assessed for.”

The district should get what it deserves from the plants, “and then, these kids could have all their programs,” he said. “Years ago, nobody said anything about what the school district was spending. The money was there; it still could be. It’s just a matter of us standing hard.”

Jeff Carson, who finished third in the school board election, agreed the plant should pay what it is worth.

“They had a 10-year deal and saved over $300 million in taxes,” he said. “They should pay what they’re worth. Everybody pays what they’re worth. I don’t know what the big deal is here.”

He said he hopes the district will send a message and turn down the deal.

“Turn this down and maybe the county legislators will open up, Scriba will open up and see that this is not a right thing,” he said referring to the other two entities involved in the agreement.

The second public hearing, to address the consideration of a tax agreement with the owner of Nine Mile Point Unit 1, was postponed until 6 p.m. on June 15.