It doesn’t pay to threaten village board members, as Mike Puntillo, owner of The Mill, the 89-unit, income restricted senior housing building on East Bridge Street, found out Monday night. Village trustees voted unanimously to turn down his request to amend and extend an existing 30-year Payment In Lieu of Taxes (Pilot) agreement. Puntillo was not present at Monday’s meeting.
Mayor William Murphy said at the village board’s April 4 meeting that Puntillo’s threat to sell the property to a nonprofit so the village would get no tax money was the wrong thing to say, when the property owner was asked last month what he would do if the village board turned down the request.
Murphy said, “A lot of emails” had gone back and forth between Puntillo, and his lawyer, and the mayor, the village lawyer, and town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel since the board’s last meeting in March. At that meeting, Murphy and other board members said they were not looking at the amended Pilot with intent to approve it.
Earlier in the month, Puntillo came, as he said at the time, “hat in hand,” looking to get a previous 30-year PILOT agreed to by the town board 15 years ago rewritten and extended another 30 years.
At the early March meeting, Puntillo said he wanted to refinance the original loan he received 15 years ago when he built The Mill at a more favorable interest rate. He explained that HUD had agreed to refinance the loan at a lower rate but that before they did so they wanted to see, in writing, an amended Pilot extended for another 30 years.
The Town of Saugerties is involved because state law says that only a municipal governing body with a tax assessor can approve a Pilot. The village does not have an assessor; it uses the town’s., so any Pilot or adjustment to a Pilot would need the town’s assent. Helsmoortel and council members had said they would go along with whatever decision the village board made.
“When he threatened to sell to a nonprofit and that we’d get no taxes, that was the nail in his coffin,” Murphy said. “It just wouldn’t be fair to the taxpayers.”
Puntillo had said that under the terms of the amended Pilot he sought he would pay $40,000 per year rather than paying property taxes. That amount would increase two percent every year thereafter. Trustees said that was less than the village would have gotten in taxes.
Trustee Patrick Landewe also noted the village attorney had told the board that state law limited the amount of years a Pilot agreement could be extended, “and this would have exceeded that.”
However, trustee Terry Parisian noted that Puntillo still had 15 years remaining on the original Pilot, so the present yearly rate of payment of about $32,000 would still be in effect.
Puntillo had said this was the first time that he was seeking to amend the Pilot, but Murphy said Alex Wade, who’s in charge of special projects for the village, told him Puntillo came before the village a decade ago, when the Pilot was only five years old, looking to amend it.
So the village government is standing pat. No revised Pilot. “The town has said they will back us on this, so it’s over,” Murphy said.