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Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Agriculture Business of the Year: Empire Tractor

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Chamber Awards, Empire Tractor

This is one of a series of articles highlighting the winners of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards for 2012. The awards gala is Saturday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

In Tim Call's mind, there's little separation between the success of Empire Tractor and the hard work and dedication of the company's employees.

Whether it's sales or customer service, the conversation with Call either starts or ends with praise for Empire's 112 employees at six Central and Western New York locations.

"We have some of the most friendly and knowledgeable people in the industry," Call said.

Eighteen years ago, Call acquired a company on East Main Street Road, Batavia, then known at Tri-State Tractor. Through growth and partnerships, Tri-State became Empire and is one of the most successful farm equipment companies in the region.

Customers of Empire range from people with just an acre of land to farmers with 10,000 acres of land, Call said. The company doesn't handle push mowers or weed eaters, but the guy with just an acre of lawn to mow can get a nice zero-turn rider while the largest grain farmer in the area can buy the biggest tractor you can imagine.

In May, 2011, Empire moved to a bigger facility on East Main Road that gave Empire more room and paved surfaces that makes the whole business look more attractive.

"Everything is clean and everything just displays so well," Call said. "It's given us a whole different image and it's helped us increase our sales."

The entire service operation is now under one roof, Call said, which helps improve efficiency.

Even with the better facility, it's the people at Empire who make the sales process work, Call said.

"We want a sales process that is easy and fun and not too hard," Call said. "People buy from people and we try to remember that. When a farmer comes in, however much money he's spending, that's a lot of money to him to spend and we want him to feel happy and comfortable and satisfied that he got a reasonable deal."

Some employees have been with the company for more than 30 years, and that's saying something, Call said, especially for those who deal with farmers who had a piece of equipment break down.

When a farmer has to come into the shop because of a broken tractor or broken combine, it means he or she is not out in the field plowing or harvesting or herding. It means work that must get done isn't getting done.

"It's the employees who take care of customers every day," Call said. "A farmer comes in because he's broke down and he's not happy. There's a lot of thankless chores and when you're dealing with a guy who's beating on you and you're trying to be happy and upbeat, well, our guys are pretty darn good at that."

Good employees and a pleasant experience are so key to success in the competitive farm equipment business, Call said.

"Most of our business is referral, and if a customer has a bad experience, he's not going to come back and he's going to tell his friends," Call said. "We've done everything we can to try and make it easy for people to do business with us."

Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Public hearing set on incentives for COR Development

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

A public hearing has been set for COR Development's request to receive financial assistance to renovate the former Lowe's location in Batavia Towne Center.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: The hearing has been rescheduled. It is now at 4 p.m. April 23 at Batavia Town Hall. (It was previously set for April 22.)

COR is seeking nearly $1 million in tax incentives for the project.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Special Recognition of the Year: St. Joseph Catholic School

This is one of a series of articles we will run over the next three days highlighting the winners of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards for 2012. The awards gala is Saturday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

St. Joseph School has been around since 1873 and currently has an enrollment of 300 students from pre-K through eighth grade. The Catholic elementary school employes 14 full-time teachers, four part-time teachers, six full-time aides, six support staff and two school nurses.

Karen Green has been a part of St. Joe's school for 17 years. She started out teaching first and second grade and has been the school's principal for the last seven years. She has witnessed much change in those 17 years. However, the school's mission of teaching faith, academics and service has always remained the same.

Green says, "We are an option for families that are looking for something different. If they want that Catholic and Christian-centered education we are here to give that to them."

She says she is very proud of St. Joseph students. Their work habits, their character and how they treat each other make the teachers' jobs very easy.

Academics and service are what make St. Joseph students stand out.

"I often hear from high-school teachers and administrators that they love getting St. Joe's kids, they have good work habits and they participate in class. Knowing that they leave here doing that is a great feeling," Green says.

Chad Zambito, who has been working at St. Joseph's for the past year running their marketing campaign, nominated the school for the special recognition award. After walking through the halls of the school and seeing the kids and their families, Zambito realized that it was different at St. Joe's. It was a special place.

"They have a strong tradition of supporting the community while struggling to make ends meet," Zambito says. "The school continues to find ways to expand programs like advanced math and sciences along with athletics and music while other institutions have been cutting their programs."

St. Joe's gets very little funding from the state.Tuition and enrollment are very important. "It's what we are used to, we have always done more with less," Green says. 

The parents also play an important role. They help with raising funds by volunteering to work at Friday night bingo, the Mammoth sale, fruit sale, Walk-a-thon, Popcorn Ball, and the Penny Carnival. According to Green, "Those big events give us enough money so that we can give our kids and teachers extras like iPads and SMART Boards to work with. We've tried to make the technology really important here and I think that's how we stay afloat."     

In Genesee County, St. Joseph School is the last remaining Catholic elementary school. St. Mary's closed in 2004 and St. Anthony's in 2006. 

Last year, with the closing of Holy Family School in Le Roy, St. Joseph School had to deal with an influx of about 100 students. "We had a couple of tough months over the summer last year trying to prepare," Green says. "We had mixed feelings and it was bittersweet, we felt bad their school had to close and we know what it would have been like and it very well could have been us put in that position." 

St. Joe's hired six aides and two teachers to accommodate the larger class size. Next year they will be looking for a part-time teacher for their Earth Science class at the middle-school level. 

Looking forward to the 2013-14 school year, the first, third and fourth grades are full and have a waiting list. Kindergarten is filling up fast with only five spaces open. At the middle-school level, sixth, seventh and eighth grades are all open.

Parents who have enrolled their children in 3- and 4-year-old preschool can take advantage of the school's Wrap Around Program which was started two years ago. Green says this program has taken off. It's for parents who need an affordable safe place to take their kids after the half day pre-school session.  

Green says her group of teachers, aides and support staff are amazing. They go above and beyond every day. Some run the After School Program, some are involved in extracurricular activities like Drama Club and Art Class and all are available after school each day to provide support for students and parents.

"It takes a special person to work here, to put that much time and dedication in and they do it on a daily basis. The salary is not like in the public school systems," Green said.

Each school year there will always be challenges. Green thinks that is not always a bad thing. 

"St. Joseph School will always be looking to improve in every aspect," she says. "We just don't want to sit back and say things are working well the way they are. You have to always be looking forward to the future. We are always trying to think ahead to make our school stronger and I think that's why we continue to do what we do here." 

For more information on St. Joseph School at 2 Summit St. in Batavia call 585-343-6154 or check out their Web site at www.sjsbatavia.org/

Photos by Howard Owens.

Karen Green

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Innovative Community Contribution of the Year Award: Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden

post by Alecia Kaus in batavia, business, Chamber Awards, Peace Garden

This is the first of a series of articles we will run over the next three days highlighting the winners of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards for 2012. The awards gala is Saturday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

When Barb Toal went on a sightseeing trip to Rome, Italy, with her sister six years ago, she sat in a beautiful garden across from the Colosseum to rest for a few minutes. At the time she had no idea what the garden was, only that it was a wonderful peaceful spot to sit and take a break.

Fast forward two years later to 2009.

Barb is sitting in the living room of Paula Savage, president of the International Peace Garden Association, who is trying to convince Barb to help set up an International Peace Garden commemorating the War of 1812 in the City of Batavia.

As the two women sat discussing the project, Paula had a laptop on the coffee table running pictures of International Peace Gardens from around the world. Barb froze when she saw a photo of the beautiful garden she remembered sitting in a few years earlier on her trip to Rome.

After scrolling through a few more of Paula's photoss, Barb recognized another garden she visited the following year after her trip to Italy -- in Dublin, Ireland.

"It's pretty ironic. I've been to two of them now. This is a no-brainer. I gotta get involved," Toal said.

Being president of the Holland Land Office Museum at the time, she thought this would be good use for the vacant land to the east of the museum and a good way to bring more people in to visit the Holland Land Office."This is a great fit, a perfect fit," Toal thought. The idea was now planted.

She then solicited the help of longtime friend Carol Grasso. The two have been friends since ninth grade and both graduated from Pembroke High School together.

"I just knew I had to be a part of it," Grasso says.

"This community, we knew since we were little, would come together to make this happen," Toal added.

Armed with seven solid volunteers, the group now referred to as "Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden" went to work. After four years of meetings, fundraising, and solicitations, they were ready to make the garden a reality.  

Running into many obstacles along the way, the project had to be accomplished one day at time. The electric wiring and digging through the base of Walnut Street and the old bridge was a stopper.

"After the electric meeting we were whipped. We thought, 'we can't do this and it's not gonna happen,' Toal said. It was like climbing a mountain, I slipped went down 10 notches then had to go up another 10 again." She said she learned a lot about patience over those four years.

Toal said they knew what they had to do, but had no money. It was amazing how the community came out to help. There were 15 landscaping trucks in the prime season that showed up and volunteered to revamp the once-barren land.

Martin Dilcher, of Dilcher's Excavating, who nominated the group for the award, was driving by the work in progress one day and spotted Barb using a jackhammer. She was making her way through layers of old buildings and solid rock to create a 5-foot hole in the ground for the electric and base for the globe. Dilcher yelled out to her, "What are you trying to do kill yourself ?" Dilcher showed up at 9 a.m. the next morning with a backhoe to help out.

When Toal needed someone to make the giant metal globe she turned to her neighbor Rob Barone who is a welder. He didn't know what she really wanted.

Toal made a trip to BJ's Wholesale and purchased a glass globe in a box and showed it to Barone. She also handed over a few pictures of one located in the Town of Lima. Barone then solicited the help of Patrick Waite, and together they created the globe that is currently on display at the Garden.

According to Grasso, "There were a lot of ups and downs. We didn't think we were going to make it, especially moneywise, but we did it."

She says people can't wait to help out and fund-raise now.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden will be holding their third annual fundraiser dinner to be held at Terry Hills April 27th. They are planning a fashion show and are honoring Joe Gerace and Carolyn Pratt this year.

May 11th they will be having a birthday party and celebrate by raising the 23 flags for the year. It will be a community day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come out and join in the festivities.  

The Batavia Peace Garden commemorating the War of 1812 is stop number 13 of 25 on a 600-mile trail that runs through Canada and the United States. Batavia became the rallying point in the War of 1812. British forces burned 200 homes in Youngstown, many families then relocated to the Batavia area to take shelter.

Three more gardens were added to the trail last year. All are located in the Thousand Islands region of New York State. Brussels, Belgium, will be the location of the next garden. It will be created in 2014.

Toal says the group has plans on expanding the Batavia Garden in 2014. They want to extend the grounds to include the area behind the Genesee County Courts facility near the falls of the Tonawanda Creek. They will add more flags and possibly a gazebo.

Toal, who is now retired, says she is more busy now being president of the Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden. She says, "It hasn't been a hard road, just a long road to get to this point."

"To think what we've done in a couple of years, it's humbling to think we got this award," Grasso says. "It's was worth every drop of sweat that we had. All the hard work, the back-breaking digging. It's amazing."  

Anyone interested in buying a brick or path stone can contact Barb Toal at 585-344-2548 or e-mail her at btoal@ rochester.rr.com.

The group also has a new Web site, bataviapeacegarden.org.

Photo by Howard Owens. From left, Barb Toal, Mary Ellen Wilber, Carol Grasso, and Berneda Scoins.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm

It doesn't always take massive tax subsidies to get COR to build in a community

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business

The way Damian Ulatowski sees it a retail project should be able to stand on its own without taxpayers helping foot the bill to open a new store.

"I'm just kind of old-fashioned that way," said the Town of Clay supervisor. "If you believe in your project, you should be able to reap the rewards if it succeeds. If it fails, you should suffer the consequences as well. It shouldn't be up to the taxpayers to shoulder the burden. I just guess that's the way I was raised.

"We're rather conservative here," he added.

Ulatowski has been on the town board for 13 years and he's seen a lot of retail development within the town's borders during that time.

None of it, he said, has been built with a single dime in tax breaks.

In Clay, you will find dozens of Big Box retailers -- Walmart, Lowe's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Kohl's, Petsmart, Sam's Club, Barnes & Noble and even Wegmans.

"These businesses can survive without tax breaks but we've trained them that they can't," Uratowski said. "Clay is one of the most commercially built locations in all of Onondaga County. We have several business complexes. All of them are thriving. No stores are closing. None of them got any kind of subsidy."

One of the largest retail developers in Clay is COR Development, the Fayetteville-based company that is also responsible for Batavia Towne Center.

COR's two centers in Clay contain more than 700,000 square feet, with the first and largest development starting the permiting process in 2005, about two years before Batavia Towne Center.

COR, according to Genesee County Economic Development Center records, was promised $4.6 million in tax abatements to complete Batavia Towne Center, including a 10-year PILOT that is not yet expired (not all of the tax savings have been realized yet). 

Now COR is seeking nearly $1 million in additional tax breaks, ostensibly to help attract Dick's Sporting Goods and possibly a T.J. Maxx to Batavia, as well as at least one other retailer.

A public hearing will be required before the GCEDC board can vote on the incentive package, because under recently reenacted state law, retail projects cannot receive tax breaks unless there is a finding that the project is a tourist destination or fills retail needs not being met locally.

A date for the public hearing has not yet been set.

While COR apparently doesn't always need tax incentives to build, lease and sell its construction projects, the company has accepted at least $9 million in such incentives from three IDAs in the state, according to records obtained by The Batavian from the Authorities Budget Office.

The ABO did a search for "COR" (to capture possible subsidiary names that also use the COR name) as well as COR's business address to check for IDA handouts.

It's possible not all of COR's IDA-approved subsidies turned up in the search.

It apparently also left out projects where COR sold off assets. With Batavia Towne Center, for example, COR sold the Target property to the Target company, and those subsidies are not reflected in the ABO spreadsheet.

Besides Batavia Towne Center, COR has received IDA assistance for:

  • A $42 million apartment complex in Watertown. There was no PILOT on the project, but COR did receive $2.2 million exemption on state and local sales tax for construction materials. The project was approved in 2012.
  • On a $6.7 million retail project on Route 5 in Fayetteville, COR was approved for tax incentives in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 totalling $3.5 million.
  • Also in Fayetteville, in 2009, COR received $1.2 million in breaks on a 69,000-square-foot manufacturing and research facility for Sensis Corp.
  • COR also built in Fayetteville a 24,467-square-foot office complex for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. at a cost of $3.7 millon and received $406,000.

Besides Clay, other COR retail projects that don't show up in the ABO report are center's in Canandaigua, Latham, New Hartford, Erwin and Webster (COR's creative naming for all of these projects tend to be some variation of "Towne Center").

It's possible some of those projects received local tax assistance -- assistance that didn't go through an IDA (Industrial Development Agency, such as GCEDC) and therefore doesn't show up in the ABO report.

That's case in Webster where Town Supervisor Ron Nesbitt said he uses Section 485-b of the state's real estate code to grant tax breaks.

While the code allows up to 50 percent of a property's assessed value to be forgiven each year (decreasing over the years in increments of 5 percent), Nesbitt said he only grants relief on 20 percent of assessed value, which decreases in increments of 2 percent per year.

That's 20 percent off the entire assessed value, not just on the increase in assessed value, as in the standard PILOT granted by GCEDC. A project that begins with an assessed value of $200,000 and then jumps in value by $1 million after development will be taxed on 80 percent of the entire $1.2 million of assessed value.

Because it's not an IDA-sponsored tax break, the agreement only covers Webster's property taxes, not Monroe County or school district taxes.

Nesbitt made it clear, he's no fan of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA). If a developer receives help from COMIDA, the company might find tough sledding in Webster.

"I have control over that building permit," Nesbitt said. "I'm not saying I'm playing hard ball, but I have control over the building permit and just how fast it goes through. You've got to remember, somebody is making a lot of money off these tax breaks."

Businesses should pay their fair share of taxes, Nesbitt said. They consume the local services, they should pay. He thinks IDA tax breaks give away too much.

"The pot is getting smaller and smaller," he said.

The Webster tax rate is $4.33 per thousand.

"The town tax isn't killing me," he said. "It's the school tax that's eating me up."

A developer in Webster would need to strike a separate deal with the school district since there's no IDA involved. The school tax is $22.90 per thousand.

Nesbitt said he even carries out his everybody-pays-a-fair-share philosophy to nonprofit agencies.

If a nonprofit wants to build in Webster, they need to agree to pay town taxes.

"I sit down with the president or CEO and I tell them, if you're not going to use any police service, any ambulance service or any other service, you don't have to pay a tax," Nesbitt said. "If you're going to use services, you pay the town tax."

Nesbitt said even with his hard line on tax breaks, companies still build in Webster.

As for Batavia Towne Center being a tourist destination, the City of Batavia has recently received a new study by W-ZHA, LLC, that indicates the center does fulfill one of the legal definitions of a "tourist destination." It is bringing in visitors from outside the city and town, but part of the justification for a tourist destination is spin-off spending.

That doesn't seem to be happening, according to the report. Shoppers are not stopping for meals at Batavia's restaurants.

Town and city residents alone should generate about $192 million in retail spending, but sales annually exceed $231 million, a gain of $39 million above what the city and town should generate.

"Both the town and the city are shopping destinations," the report states.

 How much of that $39 million comes from outside the county is unclear.

With the additional visitors for retail, the county's eating and drinking sales potential is $89 million. Local restaurants and bars are getting only about $59 million of that market, according to the report.

Last year, a study released by the consultants for czb found that the city was losing about $12 million in annual restaurant spending to surrounding counties.

The full W-ZHA report will be released at a later date.

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

STAMP not currently in the running for mysterious 'Project Azalea'

post by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, business, Project Azalea, STAMP

The tech press is abuzz with speculation about "Project Azalea," a  multibillion-dollar computer chip factory that could be built somewhere in the U.S. with state economic directors in New York, Oregon, Washington and Texas trying to find the right package of incentives to woo the company behind the project.

It's all just rumor and speculation, but the company supposedly behind "Project Azalea" is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple Computers.

But here's the headline for Genesee County: Don't count on "Project Azalea" coming to the STAMP project in Alabama.

Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations for Genesee County Economic Development Center said the local IDA hasn't been given any indication from the Empire State Development that STAMP is on the short list of possible locations for "Project Azalea."

STAMP simply isn't ready yet for consideration by the mysterious company behind the project. The planned high-tech park must first become "shovel ready light" so a developer could start digging as soon as the ink dried on any contract for the project.

Business reporter Adam Sichko lists two New York locations as possible sites for the 1,000-plus jobs the project is expected to create: the Marcy NanoCenter, a 430-acre site on the Utica campus of SUNYIT and Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta.

While Texas does pop up as a possible location, The Oregonian says there are three main contenders, with New York still on the list.

The Oregonian also reports that New York is ready to spend tens of millions of dollars to lure the company to Upstate.

Hat tip to reader Joanne Rock for suggesting we look at Project Azalea.

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Petition drive started to protest further tax incentives for COR and Dick's Sporting Goods

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

Press Release from Phil Ricci, chairman of the Gensee County Libertarian Committee:

Dick's Sporting Goods also does not expect to win, or ask for, tax abatements to expand here. "Our goal is to deliver everything at the lowest price," Hennion said. "We really don't feel like we should be using customers' money to build our stores."

That was a direct quote from the VP of Dick's Sporting Goods!

The classification of the Batavia Towne Center as a "tourist destination" is laughable at best, and a complete deception regardless. More than $6 million dollars has already been promised to COR over a 10 year period. Yet even though the company did not complete many of the promises within the original project, they are asking for an additional $ 1 million in "tax incentives" to re-fit a previously failed space!

No tax payer should be asked to subsidize a multi-billion dollar retail chain, so they can do business in their town, but what's even worse is when that retailer is not asking for the help!

Stop the abuse! Tell Mary Pat Hancock and the GCEDC Board to not approve the additional funds!

Sign the petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/706/682/307/stop-the-additional-funding-of-tax-incentives-to-cor-for-dicks-sports/

About the Genesee County Libertarian Committee: Advocate. Educate. Choice. The Genesee County Libertarian Party. For more information, please join us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/GCLP.NY.
Also Please join us for our first fundraiser, April 13th at Batavia Downs! http://thebatavian.com/lisa-ace/sponsored-post-celebrate-liberty-night/36799
Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Batavia Towne Center expected to generate more than $4.3 million in new tax revenue by 2018

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, GCEDC

NOTE: There was a big mistake in the original headline of this post about the amount of property taxes that would be generated over 10 years.  The correct number is $4.3 million, not the significantly higher number previously quoted.

Batavia Towne Center, in the four years since the first stores opened there, has generated more than $500,000 in new property tax revenue for schools and county government.

It's also generated more than $500,000 in new fire tax revenue for the Town of Batavia.

We don't know how much sales tax it's generated because those figures are considered confidential. But COR Development estimated -- when it applied to GCEDC in 2006 for tax abatements for the project -- that at build-out, the center would add more than $4.5 million in annual sales tax to the state and county treasuries.

Under the current terms of the agreement between COR and the Genesee County Economic Development Center, Batavia Towne Center will generate an estimated $4.3 million in property tax and fire tax revenue by 2018.

COR is asking that the original agreement be modified to help the company attract Dick's Sporting Goods along with one or two other retailers to the former Lowe's location.

There are three tax abatements under consideration:

  • $180,000 sales tax exemptions
  • $43,750 mortgage tax exemption
  • $828,390 property tax exemption

Before there was a Batavia Towne Center there was 47-acre parcel of land that didn't have much on it except for the Wood Hill Trailer Park off Park Road that -- according to a June 22, 2006 article in the Batavia Daily News -- was filled with aging trailers that once housed race jockeys from Batavia Downs.

The total assessed value in 2008 was $1.6 million.

After Batavia Towne Center opened, the assessed value jumped to $14.5 million.

Under the terms of the original agreement with GCEDC, COR received a $6 million tax incentive package:

  • $2,078,400 sales tax exemption
  • $312,500 mortgage tax exemption
  • $3.6 million property tax exemption

COR was planning a 375,000-square-foot shopping plaza that would be anchored by Target and Lowe's with Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetCo and Michael's, as other key tenants.

It would cost COR an estimated $40 million to build the center.

COR estimated at build-out the stores would employ 364 full-time equivalents (FTEs), who would be paid $9.9 million in annual wages, and the stores would generate $4.6 million in annual sales tax on $667 million in gross annual sales.

In 2007, the project was split into two parts, because Target insist on owning the building and real estate of their own stores, so the benefits and liabilities of the project are now split between COR and Target.

For the life of the agreements, both COR and Target are required to submit an annual report to GCEDC on employment.

By the time all of the stores were open in 2009, COR and Target reported a combined 365 FTEs.

As the economy declined after 2009, so did employment, dropping to 341 FTEs in 2011.

After Lowe's closed, the number of FTEs dropped to 270 in 2012.

The bulk of the incentive package for COR (all numbers in this story roll up COR and Target as if it were still a single project) was the property tax abatement.

The abatement is known as a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). 

A PILOT is designed to forgive a portion of property taxes on the increased assessed value on a parcel of real estate that are the result of improvements.

In the case of Batavia Towne Center, as stated above, the property's assessment rose from $1.6 million to $14.5 million.

COR continued to pay property taxes on the original $1.6 million assessed value, but in 2010, when the assessed value jumped so dramatically, it paid no property taxes on that additional $12.9 million in assessed value.

Under state law, fire district taxes cannot be waived, so when the assessed value jumped, so did the amount COR pays for fire services in the Town of Batavia.  Currently, COR and Target pay more than $266,000 annually in fire protection taxes.

Starting in 2011, COR began paying taxes on 20 percent of the increased assessed value, or on $2.6 million of the new additional assessed value.

This year, COR's share jumps to 40 percent of the assessed value.

By 2017, COR will be paying 80 percent of the increase in assessed value and the PILOT expires in 2019, at which point, COR and Target will be paying property taxes on 100 percent of the increased assessed value, or about $4.1 annual in property taxes.

The bulk of those taxes go to the school district with the rest going to the county.  The Town of Batavia currently has a zero property tax rate.

The projected numbers are based on the current assessed value, which is subject to change annually.

For the exemption of the center to accommodate Dick's and other retailers, COR is asking for the PILOT to be amended to cut the taxes on the new assessed value of that portion of the project.

Currently, the portion of the property that contains Lowe's is assessed at $6.9 million.

The improvements will increase the assessment to an estimated $8.6 million.

COR is asking for an amended PILOT just for that parcel that will begin at the 40 percent of increased assessment value and extend the life of the PILOT (just for that parcel) through 2024.

Rather than going up 20 percent every two years, the 40 percent of assessed value would last for three years, then go up to 50 percent for two years, 60 percent for two years, 70 percent for two years and 80 percent for two years.

In 2007, as we reported earlier, the project was only eligible, as a retail project, for tax incentives, because it was declared a "tourist destination."

Under terms of IDA law, a tourist destination is defined as a location that will attract a significant amount of traffic from people living outside of the IDA's service area.

In this case, from outside Genesee County.

The agency also had to find that the project would offer a service not otherwise available to county residents.

In a June 8, 2007 letter, COR's VP and attorney Joseph B. Gerardi, wrote in a letter to Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC:

It is anticipated that the Towne Center will provide economic and/or tourism opportunities for commercial uses not otherwise readily available to residents of the Genesee County Economic Development Region. ... The Towne Center project is also anticipated to retain a significant percentage of the retail sales available in the Economic Development Region that is likely to be leaving the Region, and create additional economic development activity. This is a result of the potential for Towne Center to attract retail sales from counties that are in near proximity to the Region and/or development.

Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock wrote in a letter dated Jan. 2, 2007:

In order to assist the Agency in making such a finding, the Company has represented that the Project is the sole comparably-sized shopping center available to residents of Genesee County and therefore provides a service that would otherwise be unavailable.

Hancock's letter did not address the "tourism destination" designation.

While the project was in development, GCEDC was apparently interested, according to a February, 2007 article in the Batavia Daily News, in adding a multi-screen theater to the project.

COR seemed less than thrilled with the idea, noting that adding theaters would mean less parking, and theater patrons would take up a lot of parking spaces that would otherwise be filled with store shoppers.

The original project proposal also promised restaurants, but none of have been built in the plaza.

COR also promised to plant $200,000 in trees in the parking area.

It's expected that if GCEDC is to grant new tax incentives to COR for Dick's Sporting Goods and other additional retail space, the project will need to be approved as a "tourism destination" and provide goods and services not otherwise available in Genesee County.

In 2005, while discussing sports retail outlets in Forth Worth, Jeff Hennion, then VP of strategic planning for Dick's Sporting Goods, told the Star-Telegram that Dick's wasn't interested in tax incentives for their stores.

"Our goal is to deliver everything at the lowest price," Hennion said. "We really don't feel like we should be using customers' money to build our stores."

UPDATE: Original site plan map added, courtesy COR Developerment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

No trash haulers planning to offer service to Batavia residents will offer totes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, garbage collection

If you're a city resident who thought you might get totes for your garbage and recycling starting June 1, you will be very disappointed to learn that none of the haulers planning trash service for Batavia will offer totes.

Not even Waste Management, one of the largest refuse collection companies in the nation, will offer totes in Batavia.

Genesee ARC, who had the contract with the city for garbage collection for 28 years, will offer the same bag and can service the agency has always offered.

Jeff Gardner, starting up Gardner Disposal, will pick up bags and cans, and PSI, based in Alabama, will pick up bags and cans.

Or you can drop off your own bags at Scofield's transfer station in Stafford or the Town of Batavia's transfer station.

But a tote that you can wheel to the curb? Forget about it.

Waste Management will charge $24 a month for up to a dozen 30-gallon bags. The quarterly rate, with fees and fuel charges, will come to $92 to $95.

Genesee ARC will charge $21.95 a month for curbside pick up of cans and bags, or you can buy 10 bags at a time for $30, or ARC will offer a drop-off service at the West Main site is 10 cents per pound.

The new kid on the block, Gardner Disposal, will be locally owned and operated and at least to start. The new owner, Jeff Gardner, will also be the garbage man picking up the trash.

He plans to charge $20 a month for up to seven 13-gallon bags or up to five 30-gallon bags. (Gardner offers more information on his Web site.)

PSI is $25.50 per month for six bags a week.

All services will offer free recycling pick up, but again, no totes.

As for bulk items, prices will vary and picks must be scheduled with your contracted hauler.

Here's a list of companies and phone numbers offering service to Batavia residents

Gardner Disposal: (585) 343-4626
Genesee ARC: (585) 343-1123 or 585-343-4203
PSI Disposal, Inc.: (585) 599-3255
Waste Management, Inc.: (800) 333-6590

Transfer stations to drop off refuse, recycling and bulk items:

Scofield Transfer and Recycling: (585) 343-7373
Town of Batavia Transfer Station: (585) 343-1729

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 11:10 am

Jobs data for Genesee County improved in February

post by Howard B. Owens in business, economy, jobs

There were fewer people listed as unemployed and more jobs in Genesee County for February, according to the latest numbers from the NYS Department of Labor.

The jobs report pegs the local unemployment rate at 9 percent, down from 9.5 percent in January and a four-tenths of a percentage drop from February 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of jobs reported in Genesee County went up from January to February by 100 positions. There were 28,500 jobs reported, which is also an increase over February 2012 when the number was 29,300.

The state's unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, and the nation's 8.1, both improvements over a year ago.

Orleans County's unemployment rate improved from January to February, 11.2 percent compared to 12.3 percent, but still off from the 10.9 percent of a year ago.

In Wyoming County, unemployment went from 11.2 percent down to 10.8 percent month-over-month.

For Livingston County, unemployment is at 10.1 percent, down from 10.3 percent a month earlier.

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