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The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency's proposal to expand its tax-exemption policies for manufacturing, commercial and tourism-hospitality projects will be discussed during a public information session at 7 p.m. Thursday in CUTCO Theater on the Olean Campus of Jamestown Community College.

Norman Leyh, the IDA's executive director, said higher state taxes, increased competition for business and the growth of gambling and entertainment on Seneca land in Salamanca have prompted the agency's attempt to level the playing field with new tax incentives to attract new businesses to the area.

The proposed policy's new tourism and hospitality abatement schedule would forgive taxes on the new assessments of projects in the first 10 years, followed by a sliding scale to full taxes in year 15.

Commercial ventures would be split into renovations and new development to provide owners an expanded tax-abatement scale.

And manufacturing projects could be offered 15- to 20-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) abatement schedules and some enhancements based on the creation of jobs.

While local taxing authorities have opposed the plan and at least one mayor has dubbed the tourism/hospitality policy "corporate welfare," Leyh says the private sector is requesting more help.

The Cattaraugus County Legislature will conduct a public hearing on the policy beginning at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 in the County Center.

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