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Heated Debate During Finance & Administration Meeting for Cortland County

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During the Cortland County Finance & Administration Committee Meeting on Tuesday, October 18th, the committee looked to vote to absolve the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency from tipping fees from the APEX site clean up at the Cortland County Landfill totaling $381,706.10 dollars.


The 9-acre property has been vacant since a Pennsylvania company left town after demolishing the building for valuable materials then leaving rubble, trash, and demolition materials scattered on the property.

The Cortland County IDA purchased the land from the company back in July of this year with plans to properly clean up the site and have it ready for market.

The City of Cortland agreed to extinguish more than $300,000 dollars in owed back taxes on the property before the acquisition by the IDA with an agreement to repay all or part of the taxes after the IDA is reimbursed for its investment upon sale of the property.

It only took the IDA 17 days to properly clean up the site with 4,500 tons of materials that went to the Cortland County Landfill, which resulted in $381,706.10 dollars in tipping fees.

Agenda No. 12 for last Tuesday’s meeting of absolving the tipping fees for the IDA regarding the APEX project was not without controversy by legislatures.

“They (the IDA) walk in here and get just about anything they want.” Said Legislature George Wagner when speaking of why the IDA should not be absolved of paying the tipping fees.

“This is wrong to forgive money that is owed to our taxpayers” He continued.

Courtesy of Cortland County IDA

When asked why the idea of absolving the tipping fees was given, Legislator Chris Newell stated.

“We have this eyesore or this blight on that part of the town. Very valuable real estate that nobody wanted to take on and the BDC took it on and worked with the city and now it’s going to be saleable and will go back on the tax rolls… It wasn’t that we gave them a check for 300 thousand dollars. We didn’t, we’re just using up some of our landfill, or space. It’s not going to affect our budget.”

Legislator Linda Jones continued by saying the City of Cortland has done as much as they can to help the IDA get the property cleaned up including the extinguishing of owed taxes and no fees on water usage while cleaning the site up. She continued saying the county still received its property taxes on the site and will continue to do so.

“Who ever it goes to (the property) whether its a developer for nice new homes, or low-income housing, or an industry that would perhaps give our county lots of employees, we don’t know what that would be, but whatever it is will be positive for this whole county, not just the city.” Jones continued.

The meeting continued with legislatures for the approval arguing the need to look at the “big picture” and the benefit this property being near I81 can be with Micron now heading to the Syracuse area and all the support companies that will move into the area.

“How much money does the IDA pour into Cincinnatus, how much money does it pour into Marathon?” – Wagner Asked the committee.

Wagner was told that it is dependent on the zoning of those areas. He then called for a vote on the agenda item.

“Let’s roll call it so I can identify certain people. You should be ashamed.” Wagner stated to committee members.

Wagner was called out for his comments regarding fellow legislators in the meeting as being “incorrect” by Chairman Fitch and Legislator Jones.

“That’s how I make my living.” He said, interrupting legislator Jones.

“We don’t name call and call people shameful” – Linda Jones said to Wagner

The resolution ended up passing after a split Yes/No vote. Chairman Fitch was the tiebreaker, voting yes. The measure will head to the full County Legislative meeting on October 27th at 6pm.

Garry VanGorder, Executive Director of the Cortland County IDA released a statement to X101 News regarding the absolving of tipping fees to the IDA.

“The Cortland County Industrial Development Agency has a long history of supporting economic development projects across the city and in our many towns and villages. The cleanup of the Apex Tool Group site this year was a clear priority, with the IDA enjoying a valuable partnership with the city to get the job done. Ratification of a county committee proposal to waive most of the related waste disposal costs at the county landfill will be equally impactful as it will help keep the agency strong in the face of other pressing programs, projects, and initiatives.”

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