GLOVERSVILLE - The Common Council passed a local law Tuesday to establish a Residential-Commercial Urban Exemption Program to allow the owners of existing commercial buildings to build apartments and receive tax exemptions.
The 12-year exemption is designed to entice owners to create residential living space in downtown and commercial areas.
In the first eight years, the buildings will be exempt from 100 percent of city property 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.
Gloversville resident Bob Castiglione speaks to the Common Council about the Residential-Commercial Urban Exemption Program on Tuesday.
The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher
The cost of converting space into apartments would have to exceed $10,000.
Council members and Mayor Dayton King said the exemption is intended to encourage business owners in mixed-use properties to fix upstairs apartments.
King said if people live downtown, they most likely will spend more money downtown and increase sales tax revenue.
The council voted 6-1 in favor of the exemption law on Tuesday night, with 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth voting against the measure.
Wentworth said she felt the number of years was too long and the exemption rate was too high, which led to her voting against the law.
"I didn't feel there was any opportunity for discussion," Wentworth said. "The public hearing was set before the law was presented to the council, and we did see what they were going to base it on before the public hearing, but I didn't agree with it."
King said he felt the council needed to take immediate action to allow businesses to come to the city and not go elsewhere.
"We need to be inviting to business and we are going to start seeing commercial development on Main Street," King said following the meeting. "The exemption won't take away any money, it is just property that won't be taxed right away but will be there for taxes later down the road, and it will also bring development to the city."
King said he is confident that he and the council considered all the appropriate information before moving on with the law.
City resident Bob Castiglione said during the public hearing about the exemption law that he believes the council is making too quick of a decision about the law without considering the pros and the cons.
"None of the council members really understand the business of creating this kind of exemption and the potential consequences in the future," Castiglione said. "I am not aware of any public debate that has taken place where anyone presented issues and received responses."
In other meeting business:
The council passed a resolution to set the fee for redeeming a lost animal found by the animal-control officer. Fourth Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio said the fee to recover a lost animal is $10 for the first offense, $20 for the second and $30 for the third.
She said the money from the fee goes toward feeding and caring for the animal while it is at the shelter.
The council also passed a resolution to change the sewer system infrastructure maintenance charges to 60 cents per hundred cubic feet of flow for users having industrial water discharge permits, and 70 cents per hundred cubic feet of flow for users not having discharge permits.
The previous rate was 50 cents per hundred cubic feet of flow whether the user had industrial discharge permits or not, water department clerk Christine Linart said.
DPW Director Kevin Jones was authorized by the council to sell quantities of surplus compost/topsoil at the unit price of $12 per cubic yard. Jones said this could bring the city approximately $20,000 because there is about 9,000 yards of compost available.