From what we know so far, the Residential-Commercial Urban Exemption Program discussed at the Nov. 13 Gloversville Common Council meeting sounds like a good idea.
The program would encourage owners of existing commercial buildings downtown to build apartments upstairs by offering them tax exemptions for 12 years. The cost of converting space into apartments would have to exceed $10,000.
This, we hope, would encourage quality renovations to the downtown spaces waiting to emerge as repurposed housing.
In the first eight years, the buildings would be exempt from 100 percent of the taxes. In the final four years, the tax-exemption rate would decrease by 20 percent each year. In year nine, the tax exemption would be at 80 percent, in year 10, 60 percent, in year 11, 40 percent, and in year 12, 20 percent.
We'd like to see this program succeed, but the council should follow proper procedure in adopting it.
The council voted 5-1 to schedule a public hearing on the program, which would require a local law. But there was one problem: The law hadn't yet been drafted. This was 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth's reason for voting against scheduling the public hearing.
Mayor Dayton King's response to Wentworth's concerns was the public hearing couldn't wait because "business moves fast ... the longer we wait, they're going to get tired of it."
We understand that line of thinking, but if this were so important, why wasn't the measure ready to be viewed when the public hearing was scheduled?
Elected officials shouldn't rush through laws or programs haphazardly without following procedures. Failing to follow the rules could open up the city to unforeseen consequences.
We like this proposed law, but the city should be careful to follow proper procedure.