By Connor Linskey
The Town of Montgomery Industrial Development Agency (IDA) unanimously approved a new Uniform Tax Exemption Policy (UTEP) at their meeting last Tuesday night.
By law, every IDA must have a UTEP policy, which establishes the period of exemptions and percent of exemptions. This is the first time that the UTEP has been updated since 2008.
“We’re excited to move forward with this policy after months of deliberation with the community. This policy better positions the town to attract future-ready sectors,” said Town of Montgomery IDA Executive Director Conor Eckert. “What makes this policy even more rewarding was that there was robust citizen involvement in the policy process. Between months of holding public hearings and taking public comment on the policy to having informal meetings with community members at coffee shops, I feel confident that this policy is a representation of the community voice.”
The new UTEP will have several new payments in lieu of taxes categories, such as the 15-year strategic schedule for projects like research and development and agribusiness, a 15-year technology and advanced manufacturing schedule and a 10-year schedule for sectors such as tourism.
In addition, the updated UTEP takes the 15-year schedule for distribution and logistics projects and makes it a stand-alone 10-year program. This new program will substantially increase the amount of tax revenue the town will receive for future warehouse developments, while also making sure that the local labor policy is utilized.
This UTEP also features an adaptive reuse program, which will create incentives for the use of empty, oftentimes blighted or historic structures, for newer productive uses.
“Adaptive reuse is a trend in urban planning that seems to have taken off in the last few years and is commonly seen in craft beverage and tourism projects,” Eckert said. “The adaptive reuse incentive is an important tool for developers and property owners who need assistance rehabilitating those older and blighted structures for new, productive uses.”
Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher liked how the process for updating the UTEP was done collaboratively with the public.
“What’s been most important is that the adoption of this new UTEP is taking place in concert with our Town’s Comprehensive Plan Update as well as the creation of a Comprehensive Water & Sewer Infrastructure Plan,” he said. “In the near future, when all of our plans are adopted, we will be at a place where our town is promoting the type of growth we want to see with a plan that was developed by many voices and groups throughout the community.”
The taxing jurisdictions, Residents Protecting Montgomery (RPM) and members of the Montgomery community were instrumental in the process of updating the UTEP. The group created a committee, which brainstormed ideas on how to improve the policy. RPM member Sylvie Rainaldi wrote several letters to Eckert with the group’s suggestions on how to update the policy. The two also met in person to discuss changes that could be made. Overall, RPM was satisfied with the additions that were made to the UTEP.
“I think it’s much stronger than it was when it started,” Rainaldi said. “I think that it’s made a lot of steps into going the direction that we want to see for our UTEP… One of our biggest changes that we were able to make is increasing the transparency, so that any applicant of a project had to disclose who would be occupying their building at the end and that was something that was not required before.”