MONTGOMERY — The town’s Industrial Development Agency approved a tax break of more than $21.5 million Tuesday night for a controversial warehouse that many believe will be occupied by Amazon.
But it was not a unanimous vote.
The 5-2 vote on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement for the Bluewater Industrial Partners warehouse came after more than an hour of debate and discussion by the IDA, with some limited public input also allowed by Chairman Jeffrey Crist.
One of the five yes votes was cast by IDA treasurer Matthew Stoddard. The Times Herald-Record learned the town’s Ethics Board had ruled Stoddard should recuse himself from voting due to a conflict of interest.
But board lawyer Robert McLaughlin, while not identifying Stoddard by name, said the Ethics Board’s finding was not final because the Town Board has not accepted it yet, and the IDA member in question has hired private counsel to challenge the ruling.
The two no votes were cast by Stephen Rainaldi, the second vice chairman, and board member Robert Santo.
Rainaldi said before voting that he was concerned that Bluewater will not say who their tenant will be. There has been widespread speculation that it is Amazon, but Bluewater has yet to confirm that.
“I’m not comfortable giving the richest man in the world tax benefits,” Rainaldi said, referring to Amazon President Jeff Bezos. “I want to know who is going into that building. That doesn’t sit well.”
Under the 15-year PILOT arrangement, no taxes would be assessed during the first five years, then the tax bill would gradually rise, on a sliding scale starting at 50 percent, to the full amount, which was $2.78 million annually under the most recent rates.
Crist said one of several letters the board received raised concern about town services that would be rendered to Bluewater during those first five years. Crist said Bluewater agreed to pay 10 percent of its tax bill during those years. That drew scoffs from some in the near-capacity audience in the Town Hall meeting room.
The more than 1 million square-foot warehouse would be built on almost 190 acres south and west of the intersection of routes 17K and 747. The warehouse would create 300 construction jobs, and then about 750 permanent full-time jobs within three years – the majority of them unskilled.