IDA will hold another hearing on Afton tax break

NORWICH – The citizens of Afton will have another chance to gather information and voice their opinions on a deal that would save an outside lumber company upwards of $197,000 in taxes over the next decade if it buys a failing saw mill in the town.

But it’s hard to see how any more public comments will sway the matter, a few officials involved in granting the tax exemption say.

Owego-based Wagner Lumber is asking for what’s called a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement from the Chenango County Industrial Development Agency.

The PILOT would act as a tax incentive for Wagner to purchase the Pomeroy Lumber mill, located in Ninevah on the outskirts of Afton.

The IDA is authorized by the state to grant such exemptions – without public vote – to industrial businesses that it judges will create or retain jobs.

Roughly 20 Afton residents who attended a September public hearing that was required before the tax exemption can be approved said they weren’t properly notified about the PILOT agreement or the hearing.

They were further angered that it was held at 10 a.m. on a weekday.

“It’s a valid argument that not everyone can make it during the day,” said IDA board member Tom Knapp.

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