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Public Hearing Held on University Plaza Proposed Tax Deal

The Broome County Industrial Development Agency may decide later this week whether to approve a tax deal for the purchase and expansion of a student housing complex in Vestal.
The Broome County Industrial Development Agency may decide later this week whether to approve a tax deal for the purchase and expansion of a student housing complex in Vestal. A public hearing was held on the issue this afternoon.

A group of investors, including Marc Newman, plans to buy the existing 700 bed University Plaza student housing buildings from the Binghamton University Foundation. The group would take out a $48 million mortgage for that purchase.

It also plans to build more apartment buildings at University Plaza, which will accommodate 750 additional students. That portion of the investment is about $54 million.

Under the proposal, over the next 22 years the group would receive a $15 million tax break and pay $46 million in taxes through a PILOT agreement, which cannot be changed.

Several Vestal residents spoke at today's hearing and said they don't believe tax breaks should be given.

"They will build these buildings whether we give them this tax break or not. I'm convinced of that, because that's the kind of business they're in and why they're successful. They're trying to keep that dollar in their pocket just like I am. But, I'm not getting subsidized as a taxpayer. It's every single taxpayer and we're the last men on the totem pole," said Vestal resident Marlene Frey.

"I'm certainly not opposed to any kind of economic development, but that amount of money for five jobs is an awful lot of money and I'm not sure if that's cost effective," said Karl Wokon.

The head of the Broome County Industrial Development Agency says the organization's board will take all comments into consideration before voting on the proposed tax deal.

"It's about 46 million dollars in new taxes to the town if the project did move forward. It's something that the town board has supported and we'll take these comments and the board will make a decision from there," said executive director Kevin McLaughlin.

The IDA's next meeting is this Friday. It may vote on the proposal then.
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