Too soon for Wildberry Lodge tax-break decision from the Ulster County IDA

Members of the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) could not have voted on a tax package for Wildberry Lodge & Spa at their June 13 meeting  if they had wanted to, as the environmental review (SEQRA)must be completed by town officials first. As a result, the swearing in of four new members of the IDA — a majority of this seven-member body — was not followed by asking them to vote on a multi-million-dollar project in New Paltz right out of the gate.

Outgoing member John Livermore, upon whom was conferred a plaque to commemorate his service, was also the first to weigh in about Wildberry during the public comment period, saying that he was “quite shocked” to hear county legislator Joe Maloney say at the June 4 public hearing that he intended on appointing members to the IDA “to vote no,” in Livermore’s words. He urged the present members to “follow the guidelines” rather than acceding to any political pressures when considering the project, opining that 145 full-time-equivalent jobs is a “really big number.”

Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley used stronger language in criticizing the Saugerties legislator, saying that he was “appalled” that a lawmaker from the other side of the county would speak in opposition to the project, when New Paltz Supervisor Neil Bettez threw in his public support. Quigley zeroed in on one of Maloney’s comments — that projects appropriate for tax breaks are those at the scale of semiconductor manufacturer Global Foundries — by reminding IDA members that county executive Mike Hein has been working to transition the county economy from industrial to tourism, and that a Global Foundries bid “would be rejected today” by citizens who wish to preserve the rural character of the area.


Maloney was not present, but he was defended to some extent by sometime political ally Hector Rodriguez, who said that it’s “worthwhile to ask questions” about economic development with a “full-throated” dialog; nevertheless, he also said that he is “ultimately hopeful that this project is induced.”

County Economic Development Director Suzanne Holt fielded questions about the project’s precise numbers, which came up both at the hearing and this meeting. It’s “not uncommon” to simply use the highest possible figures as a conservative estimate, she said; the finances “can be in flux . . . until they’re done” being built and the specifics can be confirmed.

New IDA member Richard Jones, whose appointment was supported by legislator Maloney, signaled some reticence about the Wildberry package when he said he was “shocked” that these tax breaks would extend out 15 years, with nothing but the tax now being paid to be owed for the first five. Jones, a retired banker, expressed “concern” about the burden this might place on New Paltz residents.

John Morrow, elected chair of this board, advised Jones that reviewing such rules might be an appropriate topic of discussion, but as the Wildberry application was submitted under the universal tax-exemption policy as presently written, that’s the rules against which it must be evaluated.

It’s not expected that Wildberry will be on the agenda for the July 25 IDA meeting.

There are 2 comments

  1. Steven L Fornal

    Maybe John Livermore’s opinion was what is wrong with the IDA: “145 full-time-equivalent jobs is a ‘really big number’.”

    Yeah, that would be 290 half time employees which means NONE of them getting benefits nor a full time wage.

    As far as Wildberry is concerned, we’re talking about something like just over $2 million in taxes paid by that “really big number” of employees over 15 years. Of course, the PILOT requested is for $11.2

    I understand the multiplier concept and sales taxes argument, but NO WAY does that outlay of taxpayer money bring in more or even regain what was doled out.

    And, once again, I must state that until the IDA gets their CONTRACT to contain a claw back clause for instances when jobs promised (or however you want to put it: Those jobs entered into the application from which the tax breaks are figured) aren’t produced.

    I think it’s time for private enterprisers to use their own money or share in the profits accrued when using PILOT.

  2. Gator

    According to the Town tax collector, the only property in village and town owned by the Ulstah County Industrial Defelopment Corp is 137 North Chestnut Street, right across the street from where the old town hall was torn because of mold. Now mold has taken up in the former “Gateway”, and all the former wetlands the IDA building was constructed in. The sewer pump on wheels between your-market and village harm apartments is the fourth one to be placed there, and those four portable pumps replaced a permanent pumping structure that became too dangerous for the village workers and independent sewer contractors to keep climbing down into, thus, the long black hose sewer sucker their now. So can the Ulstah County IDA do anything successful in New Putz. Well, lets take the Consolidated Apple Packing Plant on Sout Put corners, now a private operation which the county taxpayers took a big loss on when sold to the new owner. And that has mold, which is why all the new sewer pipes are going in. Why is there an IDA anyways? As for the price tag on the old Gateway, the town moved out to the town dump instead of even going across the street for a new town hall because the whole place reeks of sewage even more than Potato Street does now. Why would you move from one mold ridden building across the street to another mold ridden building?

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