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Cortland City Council Sets Apr 16th Public Hearing For Planned Tax Exemption
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Cortland City Council Sets Apr 16th Public Hearing For Planned Tax Exemption
The Cortland City Council has set a public hearing in connection with a plan to create a property tax exemption that would provide private developers with an incentive to redevelop vacant upper floors of Main Street buildings.
 
City leaders are considering a new tax break in an effort to promote redevelopment downtown, among the properties targeted for the new exemption is the burnt out building at the corner of Main and Court Streets, which has sat idle since an arson fire there in 2005.
 
The exemption would provide a 20 year tax break to developers who invest and rehabilitate properties in the city’s main business district. The incentive would lock the property owner’s assessment in at pre-renovation levels, which means any new improvements would not be reassessed.
 
Rich Cunningham with local grant writing agency Thoma Development says the exemption would provide an incentive for property owners to invest in downtown.
 
There are restrictions, the property must be a mix of commercial and residential uses, and at least 50% of the property must be used for affordable housing, with 20% used for commercial applications. The projects must also be eligible for other grants that are available through the state such as community development block grants.
 
The graduated tax breaks would be over a 20 year period with the property owner slowly returning to full assessed value at the end of the abatement.
 
While this would address one of the hurdles to downtown redevelopment, other roadblocks remain including the increased costs associated with remodeling the older buildings and bringing them into compliance with modern codes and regulations.
 
City Mayor Brian Tobin says he sees this proposal as step in the right direction; the city is working with the Downtown Partnership to address some of the issues that hinder redevelopment, such as a lack of parking.
 
City leaders have set April 16th for the required public hearing. The county and Cortland City School District have not committed to the tax break, Cunningham is hoping both taxing entities will also approve as county and school taxes make up the largest portion of local tax bills.
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