Tuesday Night: School Board Approves Tax Deal
A divided Watertown city school board approved a controversial tax deal Tuesday night.
The deal clears the way for a large apartment complex to be built on the edge of Watertown.
The deal provides a large tax break to Morgan Management, the Rochester company that will build the apartment complex.
Over 10 years, Morgan will pay the school district about half of what it would have paid in property taxes. That amounts to a little less than $1.2 million.
Board President Mike Flick said the proposal caused some friction among board members.
"I think it's gotten more contentious as the dollars have gotten tighter," Flick said.
Voting for the agreement: Flick, Patrick Powers, Pete Monaco and Ken Netto. Opposed were board vice-president Cindy Buffalini, Yvonne Gebo and Deltra Willis.
The vote Tuesday night followed a couple of weeks of intense negotiations, capped Friday by a phone call from a member of Governor Cuomo's administration.
The caller - one of Cuomo's top advisers on education - did not offer the district a guarantee of more money, but did acknowledge the district's concerns.
"I've had calls from a variety of levels of government, local leadership, statewide leadership, telling us basically that 'you know we'll help you as you go forward, this is important'" Flick said.
District officials and school board members are concerned the cost of educating new students from the apartment complex will be a lot more than what the tax break provides.
"I just don't think that we need to let go of any more funding," Gebo said,
"We just can't afford it. It's just as simple as that," she said.
On the other side of the coin - concern that Watertown doesn't have enough rental housing to keep up with demand created by the expansion of Fort Drum.
The 394 unit complex will be built on Route 202, off Outer Arsenal Street in the Town of Watertown.
(Read our earlier coverage here.)
The tax deal means the district will get:
- $114,000 a year in years one and two
- $171,000 a year in years three, four and five
- $91,000 a year in years six, seven, eight and nine
- $79,000 in year 10
Friday, May 24, 2013, Watertown, NY
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