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Genesee County Economic Development Center

October 14, 2020 - 10:06pm

A decrease in the Genesee County property tax rate and a much smaller than anticipated increase in the Town of Batavia property tax rate.

That’s the latest word from the managers of both municipalities who shared developments from today’s meetings with the legislature and town board, respectively, concerning their 2021 budgets.

“We’ve had several budget meetings with our county legislature and at this point and time I’m ready to propose a county budget that has a decrease in the (property) tax rate of approximately 31 cents down to $9.80 (per thousand of assessed value) from $10.11,” said first-year County Manager Matt Landers.

Batavia Town Supervisor Gregory Post had encouraging news as well, reporting that his current budget calls for about a 39-cent increase – from $2.45 per thousand to $2.84 – which is considerably less than the potential 88- or 89-percent increase that was bandied about a couple weeks ago.

“Everyone should thank the county legislators for their hard work to make it possible for the revenue distributions they have just made,” Post said, referring to a final 2020 payment of $6 million and a pledge to distribute $10 million in 2021 to the county’s 13 towns and six villages. “Now, we feel much better about taking $550,000 from our fund balance to make this happen.”

Both budgets are tentative and subject to change, but in all likelihood any modifications should be slight at this point.

Holding the Line Paved the Way

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said she was hoping that her colleagues and management would be wrong in August (when they predicted a dire outcome).

“I’m glad we were, so we could increase this amount up to 10 million dollars,” she said of the 2021 revenue distribution, which is $2 million more than previously announced. She then applauded the efforts of everyone involved, noting that she appreciated their “work and consistency and your sticking with us.”

Landers echoed her sentiments, pointing out that the moves the legislature has made over the past six months, under the direction of Stein and former County Manager Jay Gsell, “have helped put us in a (good) position and helped me to put together this budget.”

“We’ve been able to fund our roads and bridges to the level that I’d like to fund them in 2021 … and they made a lot of good decisions … on furloughs, hiring freezes, deferring capital projects, deferring acquisitions.”

In order to lower the tax rate, Landers is proposing using about $2.3 million of the county’s $15 million fund balance. He said that is necessary due to a projected 20-percent (or more) cut in aid from New York State.

“We still don’t know if there’s going to be a stimulus for governments,” he said. “The stimulus isn’t anything I am looking toward for revenue replacement; the stimulus would benefit Genesee County primarily in that it would provide revenue to the state, and the state would not have to cut us.”

A 20-percent cut in state aid translates to a $2 million hit to the county’s budget, which will come in at around $144 million.

Sales Tax Numbers Better Than Anticipated

“As you saw in the resolution tonight (at the legislature meeting where the revenue allocations were approved), we’re going to budget $10 million of revenue distribution to our towns and villages in 2021,” Landers said. “We are projecting a small reduction in sales tax, but not anything that we would have thought six months ago. There were estimates that sales tax would be down 30 to 40 percent, but now we’re projecting a 5- to 10-percent reduction in sales tax.”

With sales tax numbers better than expected, the county is able to provide $10 million next year to support the towns and villages.

Landers said he and department heads went through the budget line-by-line during a couple Saturday morning workshop sessions and he “feels comfortable at this point submitting a budget that has roughly a 31-cent decrease in the tax rate, with a levy increase of approximately $400,000 (due to an increase in the county’s assessed value).

“I wish we could do more; I wish we could reduce taxes more,” he said. “It’s one of those (situations) where I’m glad we could come to a consensus with the legislature. I’m glad that we’ve got a balanced budget that I’m going to be proposing and once it goes from my hands to the legislature, it's their ability to modify it and amend it as they see fit.”

He said he expects the legislature to “tweak a thing or two,” but is relieved to have made it this far in the budget process.

“I’m glad to get through my first budget session. I never envisioned putting one together in a pandemic and a financial crisis, but I am glad that we are able to have a stabilized tax rate for Genesee County citizens,” he said. “I understand that it is going to utilize a little more fund balance than we like to, but that’s what the ‘rainy day’ fund is for. If we potentially didn’t have a 20-percent reduction in our state aid, we might have been able to have the possibility of further reductions (in the tax rate), which would have been great.”

Landers said the county’s fund balance is at 12 to 13 percent of its general fund expenditures – the proper level according to guidelines from the state Comptroller’s office.

The spending plan will be presented at a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 4 at the Old County Courthouse. It is slated to be adopted by the legislature on Nov. 23.

Town Supervisor Breathes a Bit Easier

Post said he expects to get a good night’s sleep tonight for the first time in months after coming out of a budget workshop this afternoon at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

The town received word that it would be getting another revenue check from the county in the amount of $1 million this year and just shy of $1.7 million from the county in 2021.

While the $1.7 million is less than what board members originally had hoped for, it is enough for them to be able to allot $550,000 from the fund balance to lower the tax rate.

“That, plus the fact that our investments are beating the market rate by a factor of six times, puts us in position to do that,” Post said, letting out a sigh of relief.

He attributed the town’s ability to weather the economic storm to its collaboration with the county, City of Batavia and Genesee County Economic Development Center that has resulted in developing “multiple streams of income.”

“This all started 12 years ago … by incentivizing businesses that provide sales tax revenue,” Post explained. “All of these entities have collectively applied those principals to our community and we’re reaping the benefits.”

The town board has indicated it will conduct a special work session at 5 p.m. on Oct. 20, prior to adopting a preliminary budget on Oct. 21. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 4.

May 15, 2020 - 8:51am

The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night recommended approval of a zoning text amendment to allow mixed-use buildings in the Town of Pembroke Interchange District, but not before a discussion on the practice of placing housing units in industrial parks.

Tom Schubmehl, a member of the planning board and Pembroke resident, said he had some reservations about the Town Board’s application to modify zoning in the Interchange District -- a wide area around Thruway Exit 48A, extending to Route 5 along Route 77.

“Is there any other district in the county industrial districts that allows residential use? Schubmehl asked, directing his question to County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari.

Oltramari said that the Interchange District was different from a traditional industrial district.

“It can have commercial and it can have industrial … it has the Flying J (Travel Center). It has other things like that and includes an industrial park from the EDC,” Oltramari said, adding that he couldn’t think of other similar areas in the county that permit mixed-use facilities.

Schubmehl said he couldn’t either and said “it is a concern of mine that we start letting residential fill in this space. It's going to be no different than the rest of Pembroke.”

“I know it has no bearing on the impact of inter-community that we're discussing here tonight as a County Planning Board, but as a resident of Pembroke, I think it's bad idea,” he stated.

$3 Million Commercial/Resident Project Proposed

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is touting a $3 million commercial/residential project at its Buffalo East Technology Park, which is situated in the Interchange District.

J & R Fancher Property Holdings LLC has proposed building a 32,254-square-foot, three-story facility on two acres in the park, and is waiting for a public hearing and GCEDC board vote on its application to receive more than $600,000 in property, sales and mortgage tax incentives.

According to the GCEDC, the project consists of 17 market-rate, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors, with space for four commercial tenants, as well as indoor parking and a fitness center on the ground floor.

Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of business development, was on the planning board’s Zoom videoconference meeting last night, and pointed out that his agency worked with the Town of Pembroke on attracting the venture.

“They were all in favor for it,” Suozzi said. “Certainly, there's a housing shortage need in Genesee County. If anybody hasn't seen the housing study that LaBella (Associates) put out, (it’s) on the Genesee County website. And there's a big shortage of housing.”

GCEDC: 'Live, Work, Play' Model

Suozzi said the GCEDC is promoting a “live, work, play model” and that housing – particularly at industrial parks -- is an essential component in that thinking.

“And I know the location … in Pembroke is a great location because it's across from the school and already has a Tim Hortons that wasn't part of the EDC project, but it has that ability to be right next door to it and also has 7.9 acres in total that is being proposed, of which 2 (acres) are buildable and the other 5.9 are wetlands,” Suozzi offered. “They're all protected. It's a green space.”

He went on to say the project will generate tax revenue for the Town of Pembroke and reiterated that the town board is endorsing it.

Schubmehl then asked Suozzi if the GCEDC was going to consider residential at the WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

“Well, you know, if the town said yes, I would certainly look at it, but it's not really up to Chris Suozzi and it’s not up to the EDC -- it's up to the municipality,” he said, again referencing a housing shortage.

“We look at economic development as a whole, and we bring in these companies … and the workers are living in Rochester and Buffalo, (so) we’re not optimizing the economic benefit of Genesee County,” he said. “And that's what that housing studies are showing; (that) there's a big need and we're missing the boat in terms of that revenue staying right in our county.

“So, to me, this is a new world right now and housing’s a big part of it, and the 'live, work, play' model is starting to change what's going on Downtown Buffalo right now … It's because all these old factories are being recondition and rehabbed and the millennials are jumping all over them and they're seeing growth in their workforce.”

Director Promotes Mixed Use for STAMP Site

Oltramari said he could foresee mixed-use buildings at the STAMP site, especially in a technology district closest to the hamlet of Alabama.

“I could see mixed-use buildings in that because the whole point of that is sort of having like an actual link between the hamlet and the business park,” he said. “You could have commercial businesses on the bottom floor, sort of like a main street kind of scenario. And I think that's been the vision for, you know, that kind of part of the park for a while now. So, I think even the town would be in favor of that at STAMP.”

Schubmehl asked whether or not the “live, work” model was actually in the proposal in front of the board, which prompted Oltramari to say he didn’t see it as a major issue.

“I think the era of separating uses, just for the sake of it commercial from residential or, you know, the whole reasoning behind that is to keep incompatible uses apart,” he said. “I don’t see that as a reason anymore, especially in the business parks.”

Planning Board Chair Laraine Caton then asked for a vote and all members, including Schubmehl, voted in favor of the request.

“No, I'm not opposed to it for the purposes as a planning board, we’re worried about inter-community problems here,” Schubmehl said. “And that's not an inter-community problem.”

In other action, planners:

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit for Jesse and Jolene Coots of Le Roy to operate an ATV, automotive event, hill climb, mud bog and time trial course on 10 acres of a 110-acre vacant parcel of land that they own on Perry Road in Pavilion.

The applicants said they plan to hold events two or three times this year (with the schedule dependent upon the COVID-19 pandemic).

The board’s modifications focus on the applicant obtaining written documentation from NYS Department of Conservation that the project will not be encroaching on wetlands as well as a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the potential Federal Wetlands. It also asks that the Coots submit an application for 9-1-1 Address Verification to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office to ensure that an address is assigned that meets Enhanced 9-1-1 standards.

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit request from Waifin Properties LLC of Clarence Center to operate a contractor’s yard in a Commercial District at 850 Main Road, Pembroke.

The proposed yard would encompass a 100-foot by 100-foot area on a 7.6-acre lot.

The board said the applicant is required to surround equipment and materials storage area with a fence of at least 8 feet high that has a gate, which shall be closed and locked except during working hours.

July 11, 2019 - 10:00pm

Genesee County Economic Development Center directors today accepted an application for $156,312 in tax incentives from Provident Batavia LLC, setting the stage for a public hearing, likely to take place at the Batavia Town Hall at a date to be announced.

In presenting the application to the board, Mark Masse, GCEDC senior vice president of operations, acknowledged the company, known as SCP Distributors LLC at 4430 Saile Drive, has successfully made all of the payments required per a 2005 payment in lieu of taxes agreement and is now on the tax rolls.

“The company is doing what they said they would do,” Masse said, noting that its number of full-time equivalent employees has grown from seven to 15 over the past eight years.

Responding to a question about a New York State Subsidy Tracker report that showed that Provident Batavia LLC lost jobs in 2011 and 2012, while receiving $25,700 in subsidies, Masse said his records reveal otherwise.

“Their application at that time stated that they would retain 12 jobs, not create 12 jobs, and what happened was that it was incorrectly inputted – doubling 12 to 24,” he said, adding that the online tracking system had its share of issues at the outset.

This new request is being tied to a 13,000-square-foot addition to the existing office, warehouse and distribution facility estimated to cost the company $1.194 million, broken down as follows:

-- $1.048 million for building cost;
-- $50,000 in land/engineering/architecture;
-- $40,000 in taxable equipment;
-- $55,750 in other expenses.

The project is estimated to produce a state and regional economic impact of $594,122 and $61,516, respectively, in property taxes over a 10-year period, and would enable SCP Distributors to retain 15 FTE’s with an average salary of $38,000, Masse reported.

Company officials are seeking property tax saving of $86,774, sales tax exemption of $57,988 and a mortgage tax exemption of $11,550. Upon approval after the public hearing, the project is expected to start in August and take about four months to complete.

SCP Distributors has more than 2,000 employees and 120,000 wholesale customers worldwide, and is part of the world’s largest wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies and related equipment. The company is a supplier to local businesses, including Denny’s Pool World and Deep Blue Pool & Spa.

In other action, the board:

-- Approved a $10,000 contract with Clark Patterson Lee for bidding services related to the Town of Pembroke Corfu Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Masse said the Town of Pembroke and the GCEDC (or Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp.) will split the cost 50/50 for the first phase of the project, which will require CPL to provide up to 20 sets of plans, specifications and contract documents to prospective bidders.

The second phase, which will be addressed at a later date, carries a $205,000 price tag for project management, construction administration, construction inspection and stormwater pollution prevention plan inspections.

-- Approved a contract with Leaton Signs for two 4-foot by 8-foot free standing signs as the Le Roy Food & Tech Park and one 4-foot by 8-foot freestanding sign at Apple Tree Acres in Bergen at a cost of $600 per sign.

-- Approved measures connected to the STAMP site in the Town of Alabama for additional surveys (Frandina Engineering & Land Surveying for $2,230), site assessments (CPL, $1,500), to remain the lead agency for an updated state environmental quality review and to dedicate the name of the main road as STAMP Drive (per a resolution passed by the Alabama Town Board).

-- Heard a report from President/CEO Steve Hyde, who expressed his disappointment in the State Legislature’s recent passing of a farm workers labor bill that is set to go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for signing.

“It’s egregious; very damaging to our farmers,” Hyde said, mentioning that farm owners would have to pay overtime to workers after 60 hours in a week.

The bill also gives farm workers the right to one full day of rest per week, eligibility for unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage, and the right to organize a union and to collectively bargain.

----

Hyde, following the meeting, provided an update on Ellicott Station in the City of Batavia and called upon Cuomo to step in to kick-start the City’s first big Downtown Revitalization Initiative project.

“We need the governor’s help to make this come together,” said Hyde, noting that program requirements of several state agencies are keeping the Savarino Companies of Buffalo’s plan from moving forward. “This is an opportunity to transform blighted property at the gateway of our city – (an eyesore) that reinforces poverty.”

Plans for the $20 million renovation of the former Santy’s Tire and Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street were unveiled in March 2016, but City leaders are still waiting for a shovel to be put into the ground.

Savarino Companies is proposing a mixed-use development of residential, office and retail spaces, including a brewery, small beverage warehouse and hops processing facility; as well as an entertainment and event area with outside seating and a tie-in to the new Ellicott Trail pedestrian pathway.

June 20, 2017 - 9:30pm

Update:

A planned public hearing at Tuesday night's City Planning & Development Committee meeting was postponed until next month to give Ellicott Station offiicals more time to deal with State Environmental Quality Review and other issues, said Duane Preston, chair of the planning board.

"We did a sketch plan review and overall it seems to be a great project," Preston said.

He said questions from the board focused on the height of the five-story apartment building -- "it will result in a bit of an up-and-down skyline," Preston said -- as well as the amount of parking and the size of a glass front facade.

---------------

No one from the public spoke at a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall where $1.5 million in mortgage, sales and property tax abatements for the Ellicott Station project were presented.

The hearing was officiated by Chris Suozzi, Genesee County Economic Development Center vice president of business development. The completion of the public hearing now sets the stage for the GCEDC Board of Directors to approve the tax incentives as outlined in a press release below.

Samuel Savarino, president of Savarino Companies and developer of Ellicott Station, attended the public hearing, along with Julie Pacatte, Pier Cipollone and Mary Valle of the Batavia Development Corporation.

Savarino noted that he would be at the meeting of the Batavia Planning & Development Committee tonight, along with the project's architect and site engineer.

The Buffalo businessman said he has encountered numerous "challenges" with the project, but the biggest one -- getting proper financial aid -- already has been overcome.

"We have surmounted the major hurdle, closing the $5 million gap with help from Empire State Development and new market tax credits to make this happen," he said. "Overarching development costs make it difficult to make the economics work (without state assistance)."

Savarino also pointed out that the site of the former Santy's Tire Sales and Soccio & Della Penna Construction companies also presents flood hazards, is part of the Brownfield Opportunity Area (which warrants remedial work) and sits on top of what is being called a "grand canal" or tunnel that runs from the corner of Ellicott and Jackson streets right through the Ellicott Station property.

A portion of the canal, which is being utilized by the city, is located directly under where one of Savarino's apartment/retail buildings would be constructed.

On a positive note, he said he has encoutered similar problems in his many years as a developer and is optimistic that engineers will be able to work around this water-filled obstacle.

Savarino added that he has lined up investors and lenders, and hopes to start demolition and construction by this fall, with an eye on being "open for business" in the fall of 2018.

The mixed-use development will consist of a retail brewery/restaurant operated by Resurgence Brewing along with 16,800 square feet of office space and a five-story apartment building.

Savarino said rent for a one-bedroom, top floor corner unit will be around $1,200 per month while a two-bedroom unit with two full bathrooms will go for around $1,600 per month. Each apartment will feature a washer and dryer and a balcony, and the 51-unit building will include a fitness center and ground floor parking.

Pacatte said the BDC is looking at Ellicott Station as its "beacon of hope" for the city's bid to receive a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award (see story below).

"We're using Ellicott Station as the anchor for our DRI proposal, focusing on the quality of life piece -- especially on the south side of the city," she said.

Valle, owner of Valle Jewelers on Jackson Street, said that major improvements on Ellicott Street "will raise the bar for all of us" in regards to building upkeep and maintenance.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center will hold a public hearing at 4 this afternoon to consider financial incentives for the Savarino Companies for the redevelopment of Ellicott Station in downtown Batavia. The public hearing will take place at City Hall.

The approximate 64,000-square-foot development will be a mix use of residential, office and retail spaces; a brewery; small beverage warehouse and hops processing facility; entertainment and event area; outside seating; and integration of the new Ellicott Trail pedestrian pathway.

The $17.6 million project is estimated to create up to 60 good paying full-time jobs.

The proposed incentives include $897,293 in sales tax savings, $128,232 mortgage tax savings and $537,398 in property tax savings. 

The project is being done through the “Batavia Pathway to Prosperity” (BP2) program which was created through an inter-municipal agreement between the City of Batavia, Genesee County, the Batavia City School District, the Batavia Development Corporation and the GCEDC.

BP2 was conceived to pool resources in order to invest in distressed areas in the City of Batavia. The BP2 program will be implemented though PILOT increment financing (PIF), referred to as the “BP2 fund,” which is the first of its kind in New York State where all local taxing jurisdictions are participating. 

Supported by the redirection of 50% of new project PILOT payments, the BP2 fund will play a critical role in generating development within the Batavia Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), a 366-acre area within the City of Batavia containing five strategic redevelopment sites.

August 16, 2016 - 8:34pm

Some of the collaborators that helped create the Batavia Pathways to Prosperity investment fund and other strategies to foster economic development in Genesee County are joining forces to launch a new project -- the START-UP Genesee "Think & Drink" Entrepreneurial Series.

Eight local and state agencies have teamed with Genesee County village business districts to offer the series, which kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 31, with a networking event celebrating the Harvester Center's 57th anniversary.

The event will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Harvester Center, 22 Masse Place, Batavia. Those with hopes of starting their own businesses and others from the public are invited to attend the session, which will feature local food and beverage entrepreneurs.

Sponsors include Canandaigua National Corp., NYS Small Business Development Center, Mancuso Business Development Group, Batavia Development Corp., Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee County Economic Development Center and Genesee Community College and Batavia Improvement District.

According to a press release issued by the GCEDC, the START-UP Genesee network can assist all types of businesses from early stage planning to site selection, access to capital and product development or diversification.

Business programs in the "Think & Drink" series will be held every few months following the launch event.

The schedule of tours, all free of charge, is as follows:

-- November, Innovation Zone, Technology-based Start-Ups;
-- February 2017, FreshLAB, Food & Beverage Start-Ups;
-- April 2017, GCC, Mastering Your Business Plan;
-- June 2017, Village of Bergen, Main Street Businesses;
-- August 2017, The Harvester Center, Maker Spaces;
-- October  2017, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Start-Ups.

For more information call Rachael Tabelski at 585-343-4866 or by email [email protected].

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