December 4, 2009

AES Tax Issue Laid To Rest

It's interesting to note that an issue that was the subject of much controversy over the past few years was resolved this week with little fanfare - the AES PILOT. For those who do not know, AES has an 1,800 acre site located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Somerset. The location houses a 675 megawatt coal fired electric generating facility serving 650,000 homes.

AES has been the largest taxpayer in the county for many years, paying more than $19 million in school, county, town and special district taxes in 2005. In October of 2006, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency granted AES a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, reducing their tax burden to $17.3 million in the first year. The payment would have then decreased each year by $500,000 until 2011, when the payment level would remain unchanged until 2019.

Niagara County, the town of Somerset and the Barker School District sued to invalidate the lawsuit. After years of wrangling in the court system, the three entities came to an agreement this week with AES to reduce its tax burden based on the exact same formula that was invalidated by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in May of 2009.

What's interesting is the deafening silence from those who took every opportunity to slam this PILOT when it was first enacted, including political figures and the kooks at the county legislature meetings.

Dan Rivera, the inept chairman of the Niagara County Democratic Committee, tried to make this issue relevant in both the 2007 and 2009 election season. First of all, any idiot knew that this issue is not one that would resonate with the voters. Seriously, you had candidates in Niagara Falls using this PILOT as the foundation of their campaigns against incumbents. I guess they didn't really understand that the actions of the IDA are separate from the legislature. Nonetheless, all of those candidates and Rivera himself have been conspicuously quiet now that the exact same deal that they found so much joy in rallying against has been agreed upon by gentlemen who put their differences aside, sat down together and negotiated a deal in the best interests of all parties involved.

And all of the critics who stood up at the legislature meetings, like the three-minute nutbags, minority leader Dennis Virtuoso and Rivera himself, calling for the head of Niagara County IDA Chairman Henry Sloma, are now eating a large helping of crow, because Sloma was the only one with the foresight and fortitude to do what was ultimately shown to be the right thing.

Thank goodness this issue has been put to rest. Of course, I won't hold my breath waiting for the former critics to acknowledge just how wrong they were - we all know that will never come.


James T. Kirk said...

You're quite right here Hobbes. When I watched the rather short meeting from the Legislature the other night, Virtuoso's silence was deafening. (In fairness, so was Updegrove's, but hey, his side essentially won.) No comments from Dennis on AES, no comments on the casino lawsuit.

I've heard scuttlebutt that Virtuoso will be stepping down as minority leader at the end of the year and turning the reins of his conference over to Mr. Niagara Bills. Apparently, Cafarella and Kimble are blaming him as much as they are Rivera and DelMonte for their party's pitiful showing last month.

The Avenger said...

Anyone who pays attention to this stuff knew the AES Pilot was the right thing to do, given that the powerplants across the state had won every property tax lawsuit they had filed. This was not about a tax giveaway but rather protecting taxpayers in the long run.

Ironically, the same politicans who were against the AES agreement...which still puts substantial dollars into county coffers...are opposed to taking on NYPA even when that powerplants takes hundreds of millions of dollars out of this community and doesn't pay us 10 cents.

I hope the county wins the NYPA lawsuit and the public sees who the real hypocrites are.