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Housing projects would help with construction jobs, labor manager says at hearing

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No one debated the pros or cons of property tax breaks at a public hearing Wednesday morning on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal for COR Development Co.

But a union business manager asked the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency to require some local labor in building COR’s proposed 294-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments.

“We would like the board, in its deliberations, to make consideration of the local construction industry and that local labor and contractors be considered,” said Dennis C. Affinati, business manager for IBEW Local 910, which represents electricians. “In my own local, unemployment is a little over 30 percent right now. It’s been pretty rough in construction for the last year.”

The proposed PILOT for COR will lead to $1.5 million in PILOT payments to Jefferson County and the Watertown City School District. That is half what the project would have paid in property taxes over the PILOT’s 10-year term.

In addition to the PILOT, JCIDA will offer sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions to COR Development Co., Fayetteville, through a lease-leaseback arrangement. According to the project size of $41.7 million, the project would save about $1,250,000 in sales tax and $247,500 in mortgage recording taxes.

The county, school district and town of Watertown governing authorities have approved the PILOT. JCIDA’s board of directors will vote on the entire proposal at its meeting at 8 a.m. today.

According to the Jefferson-Lewis Workforce Investment Board, Jefferson County has 4,500 people who are unemployed. Of those, 40 percent, or 1,800, WORK in construction.

“We would like the opportunity to bid on the project,” Mr. Affinati said. “It would certainly be a benefit to the local community to have local taxpayers, local workers, to work on the project.”

Mr. Affinati was the only speaker at the public hearing; four others attended the hearing.

JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said language requiring local labor had not been included in the PILOT document, but he proposed language to solicit qualified labor forces from the county during the day Wednesday, which was agreed to by the parties.

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