A measure that would waive Cortland County Industrial Development Agency’s (IDA) tipping fees for the APEX Tools site project, which would amount to about $382,000, is closer to being voted on by the county legislature.
The resolution passed through the County’s Finance and Administration Committee on Tuesday via a vote of 4-2. It will now be voted on by the full Legislature later this month.
The former manufacturing site was acquired by the IDA after a previous owner demolished the site for scrap, leaving city of Cortland residents with what is known at the state level as a brownfield. The city then forgave $300,000 in taxes, but still plans to honor its property tax commitments to the county when the site is in full use for another development.
The IDA has hired contractors to dispose of materials left in the aftermath of the site’s dismantling. Since the bulk of the materials were disposed of at the county landfill, the IDA incurred $381,706.10 worth of tipping fees for the project. The landfill also accrued $4,628.74 worth of overtime expenses, since hours of operation at the landfill had to be extended to dispose of the materials.
The resolution also states the IDA will pay the county for the overtime costs.
“This county cannot afford to forgive $382,000,” said Legislative Majority Leader George Wagner (R-LD-15) who voted against the measure. Wagner added he would have wanted to negotiate down the amount in waived fees.
“Now, the IDA walks in here and they get just about anything they want,” he said. “This is wrong, to forgive money that is owed to our taxpayers.”
Legislator Christopher Newell (R-LD-11) noted the reasoning to waive the fees is because there is no extra cost to the county.
“The reason given was that we have this eyesore and we could have some very valuable real estate that nobody wants to take on,” he said. “The IDA took it on and worked with the city and now it's going to be saleable and it'll go back on the tax rolls. It wasn't like we gave them a check for the fees. We’re just using up some of our landfill space.”
Newell called the move a “win-win for the city and county.”
“It's not going to affect our budget, per se,” he added.
Legislator Linda Jones (R-LD-10) said the city has passed up on fees and funds to rehabilitate the site.
“The city also has done other things like not charge for all the water that it's taken because of the asbestos in the cleanup, and there was tons and tons of water being used,” she said. “The city has done everything they can to turn this blight into a very valuable potential property.”
Jones noted the IDA estimates the value of the site is around $500,000.