Watertown School Board votes on PILOT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. - - Nearly 400 new apartments got the green light to be built Tuesday night. The Watertown School board voted four to three in support of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement that was essential to keep the project alive. It's a big win for the developer Morgan Management - but an even bigger win for the Fort Drum community.
JCIDA Chief Executive Officer Don Alexander said, "It's our contention that Fort Drum is such a critical component that we need to protect that asset at all costs and I don't think there's any disagreement from anyone including the school board on that issue."
The apartments are slated to be built on County Route 202 and will help ease the housing crunch, but the development also puts a burden on Watertown Schools.
School Board member Yvonne Gebo said, "I just don't think we need to let go of anymore funding, we just can't afford it. It's just as simple as that."
Under the 15 year PILOT agreement, Morgan Management will only pay half of the property taxes for ten years. For the last five years, tax increases will be capped at one-percent and it will pay the full assessment rate.
This is the second PILOT the Watertown School board has supported in the past year and it could potentially bring 500 new students into an already strained district.
Gebo said, "This is why I can't say yes. Five hundred students is a building. That's a building, that's an elementary school. The majority of these students are the K through 4 numbers."
Supporters of the PILOT say they're beginning to get some big support that they believe will help the district continue providing quality education as the number of students in the district begins to grow.
Watertown School Board President Michael Flick said, "I've had calls from a variety of levels of government, local leadership, statewide leadership telling us basically that we're here to help. We'll help you as we go forward, this is important."
Support that will be essential to continue successful education programs moving forward.