JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Board of Supervisors recently set a public hearing on a proposed local law to give commercial property owners a tax break if they convert buildings to mixed residential and commercial use.
On a recommendation from the Finance Committee, the board voted Monday to set the hearing for 1:30 p.m. April 8 at the County Office Building.
Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron, chairman of the Economic Development and Environment Committee, said it would be a "political injustice" to block the issue from a public hearing.
Only Stratford Supervisor Robert E. Johnson Jr. voted against setting the hearing, although he didn't state a reason.
The resolution states the purpose for creating the local law: "By providing a tax incentive, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors wishes to encourage conversion of non-residential real property to mixed use property within the towns, cities and villages." The law would be established in accordance with state Real Property Tax Law.
"Everybody should look at this [proposed] law and see what the implications are for the county, or their towns or the cities," Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo said.
Under the plan, the county would 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 Gloversville Common Council approved a similar law in November. Both would 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 would decrease by 20 percentage points a year until expiring in the 13th year.
Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said the new county law will benefit his city and the county.
"This will help the city of Gloversville greatly," he said.
Lauria predicted the tax breaks will translate to more income for the county in the future. He said municipalities have to work together. Lauria said if his city didn't extend its state-designated economic development zone to the city of Johnstown in the early 1990s, there would be no Johnstown Industrial Park. He cited the success of park businesses there such as the Walmart Distribution Center and Fage USA.
"The county in the end will make more money on this," Lauria said.
Gloversville 6th Ward Supervisor Richard Ottalagano said the county has the opportunity to be "salesman" with such exemptions and lay the foundation for future economic development.
Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Ponticello said the intent of such a law is for downtown revitalization.
Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born encouraged county officials to hear from the public on the issue.
"I think it will be good," she said. "I've been for it all along."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.