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IDA industrial park land sales cut county tax load

Land sales at an industrial park controlled by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency have reduced the county's tax liability for property there, the IDA board was told last week.

Also, IDA Assistant Director Larry D. Witul said Friday, some of the bonds the Town of Wheatfield issued to build infrastructure in the park have been retired, reducing the amount of the special assessments by about two-thirds.

Before 2003, the county was paying the town at the rate of more than $1,000 a day for the special assessments for roads, water and sewer lines in the former Inducon Industrial Park on Lockport Road.

IDA Executive Director Samuel M. Ferraro told the agency board Thursday that he projects the load will fall to as little as $98 a day, or less than $36,000 for the year, during 2007.

The county foreclosed on the industrial park in 1999 because of unpaid property taxes, and turned control over to the IDA. However, that didn't halt the county's liability for the unpaid special district taxes imposed by the town.

Other than construction of the IDA's own new headquarters in 2001, there wasn't much action in the park, renamed Vantage International Pointe, with three parcels sold in the first four years.

Ferraro took the reins of the agency in 2003 and got the County Legislature to pass a resolution cutting the prices for lots at Vantage.

In 1999, the Legislature had set a price of $15,000 for a 1.5-acre lot. Since 2003, a dozen parcels have been sold, mostly for $5,000 an acre. And instead of splitting the proceeds with the IDA as the 1999 deal specified, the county now receives the entire sale price once IDA administrative costs and commissions for the IDA's real estate broker, Coldwell Banker Meridian, are deducted.

Exact figures for the amount the county had paid for special assessments at Vantage were unavailable Friday. Ferraro's report said the county had to pay $686 a day in 2005, which would be $250,390, and $572 a day in 2006, which works out to $208,780.

"The land sales are having a significant impact on that," Witul said. When lots are sold, the new owner pays the special assessments.

The industrial park covers 158 acres. As of the end of 2006, 33 acres were developed, sales had closed for 12 acres not yet developed, and 52 acres were spoken for in sales announced but not yet closed.

The town's bonds for roads in the park expired at the end of 2006. That's about two-thirds of the special assessment, Witul said. The water and sewer charges will last until 2012.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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