Town of Columbus wants yogurt maker to pay its “fair share”

COLUMBUS – While Columbus town residents are proud the number one Greek-style yogurt producer in the Northeast has chosen to call their rural community home, they don’t see a need to give the company additional tax breaks to fuel their expansion.

That was the message Columbus Interim Supervisor Bruce Vermeulen relayed to the Chenango County Industrial Development Agency, during a public hearing held Tuesday night at the Columbus Town Hall.

The meeting was held to gather feedback regarding Agro Farma’s request for a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement to abate property taxes on the 150,000 square foot, $22 million refrigerated warehouse they are currently constructing. The company is also seeking sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions for a second project, designed to expand production at their existing facility.

The bottom line, according to Vermeulen, is that Agro Farma – the makers of the wildly popular Chobani-brand Greek-style yogurt – doesn’t need the concessions.

“The construction they are doing certainly appears that it would be done regardless of whether this is given to them,” the town official said, reading from a prepared statement. “Why are the citizens of Columbus, all county residents and Unadilla Valley school taxpayers subsidizing this project?”

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