By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The Town Council granted SeaComm Federal Credit union a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement on their expansion project at the main branch on Stearns Street.
Once the project is complete, they will be taxed at the old assessed value for the first five years, plus 10 percent of the new value. For five years after that, the building will be taxed at 50 percent of the total value.
Councilman Albert Nicola ultimately voted to approve the deal, but questioned it at first.
“Is this in any way tied to job creation?” Nicola asked.
Town Supervisor Joe Gray had similar feelings, he said he met with SeaComm heads and asked them “SeaComm is a successful entity, why can’t you pay your taxes?”
Councilman John Macaulay said his understanding is that they will create 50 construction jobs, create 18 new full-time jobs and maintain 106 positions.
“They’ll be able to bring in more jobs up-front,” Macaulay told the board.
SeaComm CEO Scott Wilson had told the village board earlier in the month that the expansion would create 28 credit union positions.
Although exact figures were unavailable, Gray said the taxes on the current building are in the $500,000 range.
The expansion project will close SeaComm’s 79 Main Street branch and overhaul the Stearns Street location.
Wilson said on Dec. 3 that the Stearns Street branch will be getting a 15,700 square-foot expansion that will also house SeaComm’s call center, and its commercial loan and new risk management departments. He added that they want to keep their call center local rather than outsourcing. The structure will be designed so it can easily be expanded down the road, if necessary.
“We know, and I’m sure you do, that North Country people like to talk to North Country people,” Wilson said at the time.
He said they will look at keeping the ATM at Main Street after the branch closes.
“We will maintain [the building] and pay taxes on [it] until we sell [it], and we won’t just sell to anybody,” Wilson said in previous statements.