JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday passed a law to give property owners a tax break if they convert buildings to mixed residential and commercial use.
The new law, which passed 13-5 after a public hearing, immediately benefits Gloversville, but county supervisors said the county's other municipalities can get the exemptions if they request them.
"I think this is a chance for us to look forward," said Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born. "I think it would be a mistake not to seize this opportunity."
Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said the law is a "golden opportunity" to spur the economy in Gloversville and the county.
Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron said the number of Gloversville properties to immediately take advantage of the exemptions may be fewer than five.
The law establishes a property tax exemption for nonresidential property converted to mixed-use property. Under the plan, the county will provide 12 years of tax incentives to county property owners who convert existing commercial buildings to mixed-use buildings with both business and residential space. The exemption is applied to the value of the taxable improvements.
Getting a break
Here are the tax exemptions included in Fulton County's new law, which pertains to taxable improvements to buildings converted to mixed residential and commercial use:
Years one through eight - 100 percent exemption.
Year nine - 80 percent.
Year 10 - 60 percent.
Year 11 - 40 percent.
Year 12 - 20 percent.
The Gloversville Common Council approved a similar law in November. Both laws apply to renovations costing more than $10,000 and provide a 100 percent exemption on the taxable amount of improvements for eight years. The exemption then decreases by 20 percent a year until expiring in the 13th year.
Public speaker Darrin Romeyn, owner of DM Romeyn Civil Engineering in Gloversville and Mary Ann's Restaurant in Broadalbin, encouraged supervisors to pass the law.
He said passage offers an "incentive" for building owners to not only improve the quality of their property, but also expand and promote downtown residential uses.
He said other communities already have such an exemption law, including Niagara, Onondaga and Livingston counties, the cities of Auburn and Poughkeepsie, the town of Saratoga, and the villages of Brockport and Geneseo.
"If people live near commercial properties, such as downtown areas, there is more of a chance that the residents will use the commercial services that are so readily available due to their close proximity," Romeyn said. "Past history proves this to be the case when the cities, villages and towns thrived on revenue generated in downtown areas."
Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Ponticello, a candidate for Gloversville mayor, called the new law an "initiative for the future."
"The properties will be reassessed," he said. "They have to go through a process. Abuse will be monitored."
The law also has its critics, including Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo, who voted against the law.
He said residential property owners should pay taxes.
"I see room for abuse in this," he said.
Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper, who also voted against the law, said it may burden taxpayers.
Michael Anich can be reached at email@example.com.