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Clinton Street Tax Break Would Immediately Increase Sweden Town Revenues

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According to the Town of Sweden’s 2013 budget posted on the town’s website, Sweden issued COMIDA tax exemptions worth $13,812,300 to three properties last year.

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That’s 13 million, eight hundred twelve thousand three hundred dollars of tax exemptions to three businesses in the Town of Sweden. But the Sweden Town Board hesitates to grant a tax exemption to redevelop the historic properties along the Erie Canal.

According to the Town of Sweden’s budgets for 2012, 2011, and 2010, Sweden issued COMIDA tax exemptions worth $15,702,000 to seven properties in each of those years.

Moreover, according to the 2013 Final Assessment Roll for the Town of Sweden, it looks like Wal-Mart is getting a huge tax break from the Town of Sweden, at the expense of other local businesses.

Wal-Mart is listed on page 740 of the 1,291 page report. The 486 Mini-Mart and Buckman’s Car Wash are listed on the same page right above the Wal-Mart listing.

Comparing the Full Market Value and the Town Taxable Value for those three properties discloses that Wal-Mart seems to get a tax break that the other two businesses do not get.

The Full Market Value and the Town Taxable Value for the 486 Mini-Mart are the same: $715,200.

The Full Market Value and the Town Taxable Value for Buckman’s Car Wash are also the same: $388,400.

But the Full Market Value and the Town Taxable Value for Wal-Mart are radically different.

The Full Market Value for the Wal-Mart property is $13,698,300 but the Town Taxable Value for the Wal-Mart property is only $10,700,300. That’s a $2,998,000 difference in the actual value and the taxable value of the Wal-Mart property.

That 3 million dollar difference in the assessed value costs the taxpayers in the Town of Sweden a ton of money.

The Town of Sweden’s website states that the tax rate for properties in the town but outside the village is $4.46 per thousand. The tax rate for properties in the town and inside the village is $2.30 per thousand.

At the Full Market Value of $13,698,300, the Wal-Mart’s town taxes would be $61,094.42 a year.

However, at the Town Taxable Value of only $10,700,300, Wal-Mart’s town taxes are only $47,723.34 a year. That’s a $13,371.08 tax break every year. But you don’t hear people complaining about it.

Sweden gives Wal-Mart a $13,371.08 tax break.

However, at the October 8th Sweden Town Board Meeting Rhett King, a college landlord in the village, complained about the proposed tax exemption for the historic Whiteside, Barnett & Co. Agricultural Works Building located at 60 Clinton Street in Brockport.

Why isn’t Rhett complaining about what seems to be a $13,371.08 tax break for Wal-Mart?

Oh that’s right! Rhett King was active in the campaign to dissolve the village, and maybe he’s still trying to do that even though the referendum went down to an ignominious defeat.

Rhett King, and the other people who oppose the Clinton Street Development Project, are being penny wise and pound foolish. They’re complaining about nickel and dime stuff, but don’t say a word about the $13,371.08 tax break for Wal-Mart.

The property at 60 Clinton Street is assessed at $64,600.00. But that property is owned by the Greater Brockport Development Corporation (GBDC), so it is tax exempt. The Town of Sweden collects no taxes on the property at 60 Clinton Street.

GBDC has owned the property since 2008, so Sweden hasn’t collected any taxes on that property since 2008.

Right now, Sweden gets absolutely no tax revenue from the property because it is owned by the GBDC. However, if the property were to become the property of a private individual, such as the O'Connell Organization, the situation would be different.

Taxes would be based on the present assessed value of the property ($64,600.00). But enactment of the 421m exemption for that property would exempt the property from taxes for up to 23 years on the increased value of the property as a result of improvements.

That’s an important point. The 421m tax exemption only applies to the increase value of the property after improvements are made. The owner would, however, have to continue to pay the taxes on the present assessment of $64,600.

So if the O'Connell Organization owns the building, then the Town of Sweden would receive $148.58 a year at the current tax rate of $2.30 per thousand. Over the 23 year time period proposed, that is $3,417.34 in taxes the town will receive.

The town will never receive those tax revenues if the property remains owned by the GBDC.

Granting the 421m exemption for the property at 60 Clinton Street will add a property to the town's tax rolls and immediately generate revenue for the Town of Sweden.

So why are people like Rhett King complaining about it?

Perhaps it has something to do with the Village Code. For safety reasons, and to protect property values, the Village Code doesn’t allow landlords to rent a single family house to more than three unrelated people.

The town code doesn’t contain a similar provision, and some landlords want to dissolve the village government to eliminate that provision of the code.

To some college landlords, profit is more important than safety or property values. So keep that in mind when they complain about the 421m exemption for the property at 60 Clinton Street.

They’re not interested in redeveloping Clinton Street. They are interested in higher profits from their rental properties, and that’s it.

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