Why is Cheel not taxed?, Potsdam woman asks
Friday, December 27, 2013 - 7:27 am

To the Editor:

October 24th, I sent this letter to the St Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. Copies were forwarded to Supervisor Regan, Mayor Yurgartis, Superintendent Brady, Clarkson University President Anthony Collins and Legislative Chairman Putney. As of Dec. 16, I had received no comment. A reply to all taxpayers would be proper.

Dear IDA board members:

For several months I have been hearing about the possibility of the Canton and Potsdam Central Schools merging. As a Sandstoner alumni and mother of two current students at AA Kingston Middle School, this deeply troubles me.

As you may remember, I discussed with you (Mr. Kelly) about a year ago, the possibility that your agency would be willing to enter into a PILOT agreement with the Potsdam town, village and school concerning your ownership of the Cheel Sports Complex. You replied it certainly could be a possibility.

When I was told Cheel was owned by the Industrial Development Agency due to bonding issues, I thought that was odd. I have researched dozens of other projects that the Industrial Development Agency has bonded and partnered with, and you have not taken over the deed and/or title to any other property. It would seem you own this property so Clarkson can avoid taxation.

If Clarkson were to hold the title to this building, it would be subject to thousands of dollars in property taxes. For over 20 years now, no one has questioned this arrangement. The county should have been making money off the sales of tickets, food, beverage, ice rentals, and trade shows. The school, town and village should have been making revenue on this property’s tax assessment for 22 years. This is the direct opposite of what your agency is designed to do, which is economic development and expanding our tax base.

Since the Industrial Development Agency makes a “commission” of 1 percent on all the bonds it issues, you can’t tell the public that you are a struggling enterprise. The fact that the county gives you $400,000 a year on top of this commission is more proof that you are economically viable and should be paying back a portion of your profits to the communities and schools where you do business.

The fact you have splintered off into three other development corporations also tells me the IDA can (and should) enter into a payment in lieu of taxes.

Before the slated expansion of the Cheel Complex starts, I hope you contact Anthony Collins, Steve Yurgartis, Marie Regan and Pat Brady and start a long overdue conversation. I look forward to your reply.

Peggy Brusso