Cortland County Legislature Approves Main Street Tax Break
Cortland County Lawmakers have wrapped up several weeks of debate and approved an over 20 year tax abatement aimed at encouraging the redevelopment of multi story buildings on Cortland’s Main Street.
In a unanimous vote last night County leaders joined the City Council and endorsed the tax incentive which is available to developers who want to add apartments to the upper floors of downtown buildings.
Prior to the vote the Cortland County Economic Development team which includes County Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Haight, I-D-A Director Gary VanGorder, and Downtown Partnership Director Adam MeGivern all urged the legislature to approve the tax incentive.
MeGivern says without the development of upper floors of Main Street buildings, downtown will never achieve its true potential.
Democratic County Legislator Tony Pace who was an outspoken critic of the plan says he changed his position and supported the abatement after he received more information about the plan. Pace says other taxpayers will not have to carry an additional burden for this tax break because only the residential portions of the property will be covered under the incentive, the ground floor commercial spaces will be taxed.
The program will lock the property owner’s assessment, meaning any new construction or renovations on the upper floors will not result in an increase in the property assessment.
Ithaca bassed developer Mark Zaharris who owns the former JJ Newberry’s building at 43 Main Street is looking to renovate the upper floors there, in addition he is looking to purchase and renovate the former B.T Jones Jewelers building and restore six apartments in the upper floors there.
Taxes on the building would slowly increase toward the end of the abatement period.
The Cortland City School Board is expected to vote on the program sometime next month.