Letters to the Editor: Edge-on-Hudson Seeks Tax Relief

My name is John Leavy.

I am a Trustee in the Village of Sleepy Hollow.

I am someone who paid mortgage recording tax and the fees associated with the purchase of my property here in Mount Pleasant, and as someone who currently pays what many consider to be exorbitant real estate taxes, I completely understand the applicant’s desire and legal right to ask for relief.

However, I rise to say out loud to the members of the Mount Pleasant IDA (Industrial Development Agency), that the single most destructive act in the history of the Village of Sleepy Hollow was the PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) provided to GM upon the promise to keep their plant and 5,000 employees in Sleepy Hollow for 30 years.  That deal was forced upon the Village and School District.  The results were catastrophic when GM closed the plant, took the jobs, and continued to pay virtually no taxes for another 20 years.  It forced taxes for the rest of us up at alarming rates for more than a decade as we all tried to manage our way through the nightmare created by the Governor and IDA’s actions.

And now, after less than a year back on the tax rolls, the applicant comes before you pleading relief, promising that they are in the business of improving our community through jobs and economic development. They are not.  They are in the business of maximizing profit, and while that is not a sin, it is not our obligation as public servants to accommodate them in squeezing every penny of profit out of a development through the raiding of the County and local government and School District’s taxing authority.  Don’t misunderstand me; I support the new development and have worked hard to make it reasonable for the developers to improve the former GM site.  We have been working with them to help provide parking for the Tappan Zee Constructor’s personnel who are building the new bridge.

Up until last week I believed we, as a Board, had an open and honest relationship with the developers. I was personally shocked to learn they had been pursuing this IDA option behind our backs, even to the point of letting you, the IDA Board, think that we supported such actions. I am very disappointed that this may happen to the people of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown without due process. By the way, there was no notice of this public meeting on the Town’s website or calendar.

I acknowledge the applicant’s right to ask for this special treatment; I also recognize your right to say no. Please do not make the same mistake here that you made decades ago, crippling our community’s local government and School District. The citizens of the Village and the larger School District that serves both Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown deserve to be treated fairly.  No PILOT should be approved that does not continue to match “normal” assessments throughout the development as it progresses.

John Leavy is a resident of Sleepy Hollow and a Village Trustee.

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About the Author: Alain Begun