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Potsdam mayor Steve Yugartis. Photo courtesy Steve Yugartis.
Potsdam mayor Steve Yugartis. Photo courtesy Steve Yugartis.

Potsdam cautious on Cuomo's tax free zones

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Governor Andrew Cuomo and his cabinet are on the road for a second week, pushing hard on a proposal to create tax-free zones for businesses that set up shop on or near public college campuses in New York.

He's due in Plattsburgh this morning. Cuomo's Deputy Secretary of State, Dede Scozzafava, has already visited SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh to pitch the plan.

At the initial announcement in Albany last week, Cuomo said the tax free zones will boost the struggling upstate economy. "It doesn't cost us money," he said. " It's not an investment in tax dollars. It's stopping the collection of tax revenues. So I think it is exactly the type of approach the state needs to take."

The plan would provide a 10-year abatement of all taxes...sales, property, corporate, state income taxes and fees - for the business and its employees.

Legislative leaders have not yet said they'll support the proposal. Monday, the governor called a group of local leaders to Albany Monday to ask for their help in convincing state lawmakers it's a good idea.

Steve Yugartis is Mayor of the Village of Potsdam. He wasn't in Albany for the meeting. He says he doesn't know much about the plan, and considering the village's existing tax free properties, he's cautious about adding more.

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Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

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Steve: Anytime the village of Potsdam hears the phrase tax exempt, we grimace at that, because as you know over 70% of our cest values are already tax exempt. So we’re watching this carefully, a bit skeptical, but I think we’re keeping an open mind; it may be a good plan. We recognize our need to invest in the future. And certainly the local colleges are great assets to our community and we’d like to prosper on their coattails as much as we can and so perhaps this will meet that goal.

Martha: Did Dede Scozzafava give any impression of a timeline on when this might be enacted? The end of the session is coming in Albany; the governor has a lot of things on the table. Was the feeling that this is going to happen, and pretty soon?

Steve: No, I don’t think that was the feeling. I think because the bill hasn’t even been written, hasn’t even been introduced, and there are many details that need to be worked out. And that’s one of the things I hope the governor will listen to from local misfallacies about developing those details. So for example, will the businesses that come into this program, will they be businesses that wouldn’t have been here otherwise. Will they be completely new? Will the businesses that are in this program compete with existing businesses? And will the business that are here for the ten years of tax abatement, will they continue to be here or will they just fold up their tent after ten years and move onto the next tax free zones?

Martha: Have you reached out to the Governor’s office?

Steve: I have not yet. I’m planning to talk to our state representatives soon I have been hoping there’s some more details coming out and actually a call from the governor for comments. But I haven’t heard that call yet. But we will certainly be making our thoughts known to our state representatives.

Steve Yugartis is mayor of the Village of Potsdam.

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