A beverage distributor is seeking a tax break to relocate its Pamelia facility.

Eagle Beverage Co. submitted an application to the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement. The firm wants to use the revenue it would save through the PILOT to construct a new docking and distribution center in the upcoming Thousand Islands International Agriculture and Business Park. Developer Michael E. Lundy is creating the park on Route 3 in the town of Watertown. This would be the park’s second tenant.

“The deal, if approved, would provide a cumulative 50 percent property tax abatement over 15 years and sales and mortgage recording tax abatement,” according to a story published Nov. 4 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Lyle V. Eaton, chief financial officer with the JCIDA’s sister group, the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said the company aims to create 10 new positions within two years after it builds the new 8,050-square-foot facility. The company also plans to retain 30 existing jobs as a result of its $1.03 million effort, he said.”

The tax abatement would affect Jefferson County and Sackets Harbor Central School District. The town of Watertown does not levy property taxes.

Eagle Beverage Co. is headquartered in Oswego. It covers Cayuga, Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and Seneca counties.

“Eagle Beverage, the corporate symbol of Anheuser Busch, started with the merger of Dorsey Distributing in 1979. Dorsey Distributing was first founded with the help from Dennis and Daniel Dorsey’s father, R. Edward, and the Pontiac Beverage Company, which was started by Lawrence, Larry’s father,” according to information from the firm’s website. “The main product line of the company in addition to Anheuser Busch InBev Inc. [includes] Labatt’s USA, Diageo-Guinness USA, Pabst Brewing Company, Matt Brewing Company, Sackets Harbor Brewing, Magic Hat Brewing, Schaefer, Ithaca Beer Company, Cooperstown Brewing Company, Green Mountain Beverage, Hansen Beverage Company, Cadbury Schweppes and Mountain Valley Spring Water.”

Eagle Beverage Co.’s proposal would be a nice investment in its new facility, which would keep it in Jefferson County. Of course, Mr. Lundy’s gain would be Pamelia’s loss.

Donald C. Alexander, chief executive officer of the JCLDC, sounded enthused over the proposed PILOT. He said it would result in additional jobs. David J. Zembiec, the agency’s deputy CEO, said that representatives of both Jefferson County and Sackets Harbor Central School District expressed their support for the plan.

But is this really something that should generate much excitement? Eagle Beverage Co. said this agreement would allow it to maintain 30 jobs. Well, where else are they going?

Is Eagle Beverage Co. suggesting these positions could move to Oswego? This would substantially increase travel times to deliver its products to customers in Jefferson County.

Would it be willing to add all that wear and tear to its vehicles to continue distributing beverages to spots around Fort Drum? Or would it actually stop offering beer and wine to an area heavily populated by military personnel? Is this a decision it could afford to make?

And we don’t necessarily share Mr. Alexander’s eagerness to see taxes cut by 50 percent for 15 years to create an additional 10 jobs. Would this very modest economic boost be worth the loss of this revenue to these two public bodies?

And should a PILOT be granted to an already established company to merely swap one site for another? Why not expand the facility it already has in Pamelia?

A public hearing will be scheduled sometime to discuss the proposed agreement. Such questions should be posed at the meeting to see if a PILOT should be rubber-stamped simply because it touts economic development.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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(1) comment


Has Don Alexander ever met a pilot or tax abatement that he didn't love?

I can see it for an up and coming business that will add jobs in more substantial numbers. But I concur with the editorial. That's a big tax break for 10 jobs, to a business that's been established for decades and is apparently doing well.

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