Developers criticized Kingston school board members and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan spoke with Spectrum News on Friday, two days after the school board voted to reject $25 million in tax breaks for the Kingstonian project.
Joe Bonura Jr. and Brad Jordan applied for the Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) tax agreement. Proposed for Uptown Kingston, the Kingstonian includes 143 apartments, a parking garage, a hotel, and more. But the project has been the source of contention for years, leading up to Wednesday’s 6-3 defeat of the PILOT.
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) requires housing-related PILOT requests to be approved by the boards of three local taxing jurisdictions: the Kingston Common Council, the Ulster County Legislature, and the Kingston School Board.
According to the IDA's stated policy, a "no" vote means the IDA board would have to reject the tax break request. But IDA CEO Rose Woodworth on Thursday left open the possibility that the IDA board may vote on the tax break. They said that New York State law does not require approval from local taxing jurisdictions.
What You Need To Know
- Asked about what a school board member said was “moving the goal posts,” Ryan kept to more general statements
- Developers criticized school board members, saying they “just could not understand” the tax break request
- The IDA board may hold a deciding vote on the $25 million tax break at its December 16 meeting
Asked Friday about the process and what one school board member called “moving the goal posts,” Ryan kept to general statements.
“I’m not commenting on that process,” he said by phone. “I’m saying I believe the project and the PILOT, after the more than doubling of payments, is a net positive for the community, and I support that. I don’t weigh in on decisions that I don’t make. There’s a reason why we have an independent IDA appointed by the legislature — so that they can make those decisions.”
The Kingston Common Council and the legislature backed the PILOT for the project. The school district is the largest affected taxing jurisdiction. Its levy would be shorted about $16 million over 25 years if the PILOT was approved, according to two school board members and Woodworth.
The developers have said the project will not happen without the tax break. In a statement on Thursday, Bonura and Jordan said some school board members failed to comprehend the PILOT request.
“The school board just could not understand they were turning down additional revenue, not adding a burden,” they wrote. "It is clear that personal biases and collaboration with project opponents corrupted the PILOT review process. As such, we will be speaking with the IDA and other community leaders to discuss procedural options for moving forward with the PILOT approval.”
Some school board members and the developers have continued to accuse each other of withholding important information and poor communication in the weeks prior to Wednesday’s vote.
The next county IDA board meeting is December 16. The IDA is expected to post on its website next week if it intends to hold a vote on the PILOT.