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Genesee Legislature panel backs tax-incentive plans for two Batavia development projects

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee is throwing its support behind a pair of City of Batavia initiatives focusing on the development of the 366-acre Brownfield Opportunity Area and redevelopment of 50 to 60 vacant and abandoned homes.

The committee Wednesday voted unanimously to move the resolutions to the full Legislature for consideration at its meeting next Wednesday.

For some time, City Manager Jason R. Molino has been promoting the idea of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes increment financing plan, or PILOT – known as Batavia Pathway to Prosperity – that calls for the cooperation of the county and school district to address poverty and blighted properties in the Brownfield Opportunity Area.

The plan would require the city, county and school district to share half of their PILOT payments to generate tax abatements for potential investors. Molino’s proposal has been approved by the City Council and the School Board, and was presented to the Genesee County Economic Development Center on Thursday.

The industrial development agency and the Batavia Development Corp. would oversee the fund.

County Manager Jay A. Gsell said the purpose of the plan is to “bring in vetted, bona fide developers who could then leverage other programs” such as grants.

Molino also is seeking the Legislature’s buy-in on an innovative plan that provides property tax exemptions for residents willing to put money into vacant and abandoned homes.

He said that the property, upon completion, must be an owner-occupied single-family home and that the owner must verify annually that they are the owner-occupier.

The owner would receive a tax break on the increase in the assessed value of the property after redevelopment, with the exemption period – of up to 25 years – determined by the total cost of the renovation divided by the increase in taxes to be paid because of the redevelopment.

Molino said the number of vacant houses is costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

In other business, the committee:

• Voted favorably on an agreement with the county Chamber of Commerce to use up to $420,000 of the county’s hotel and motel tax receipts for publicity and tourism services and another $484,152 of “bed tax” reserves for the purchase and renovation of the chamber’s new offices on Park Road in the Town of Batavia.

• Approved a resolution declaring that the pending sale of the Genesee County Nursing Home to Premier Healthcare Management LLC of Great Neck, Nassau County, will not have a significant impact on the environment as defined by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, securing the way for transfer of the property by the end of this year.