Is auto-PILOT needed?

WATERTOWN — A beverage distributor seeks a tax deal to mitigate the cost of building a new facility at the upcoming Thousand Islands International Agriculture and Business Park on Route 3.

The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency received an application from Eagle Beverage, Oswego, for a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement for its new docking and distribution center, which would replace its Pamelia location. The deal, if approved, would provide a cumulative 50 percent property tax abatement over 15 years and sales and mortgage recording tax abatement.

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.

Dan Dorsey Jr., president of Eagle Beverage, did not return request for comment.

“The best news is they will still be in the county, and they will be employing more people,” said Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the JCLDC.

The JCIDA’s loan review committee on Thursday recommended Eagle Beverage’s PILOT application to the agency’s board of directors for approval. The board will review it Thursday.

David J. Zembiec, deputy CEO of the JCLDC, said the agency must host a public hearing for the prospective tax deal before it can approve it. The PILOT is expected to provide the company more than $100,000 in benefits, triggering the need for a public hearing. Hosting the hearing will require the agency to pass an inducement resolution, which its board will consider Thursday.

The tax deal would abate property taxes from Jefferson County and the Sackets Harbor Central School District, Mr. Zembiec said, adding that the town of Watertown has no property taxes. The agency would not need formal approval from the taxing jurisdictions because the deal follows its uniform tax exemption policy.

“We talked with them and we know they’re supportive of this thing in general,” Mr. Zembiec said.

Eagle Beverage was the second company to announce plans to move into developer Michael E. Lundy’s agribusiness park, following Cazenovia Equipment Co.

Mr. Dorsey previously wrote in the May announcement that his company no longer needed “large warehousing facilities in the Watertown area” after expanding in Oswego, prompting plans to relocate to a smaller facility. He also wrote that the new Watertown location “will be more efficient, and it is designed specifically to what our needs are — including a docking and staging facility.”

“I think there’s a really good chance we could get an expansion,” Mr. Alexander said, adding that the company has a “need to be efficient, a need to be modern and a need to upgrade wherever possible.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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