News Details - Local Law Adopted Opting Out of State Real Property Tax Law Solar-Wind Exemption
Following a public hearing, the Legislature adopted a new Local Law Opting Out of Section 487 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, which allows for an exemption of any increase in value due to construction of a solar, wind, or farm-waste energy system. The vote was 10-4, with Legislators Frank Proto, Pam Mackesey, Carol Chock, and Dooley Kiefer voting no and Legislator Nathan Shinagawa excused. The Legislature’s action notes that the opt-out measure comes in anticipation of development of the county’s first large-scale commercial windfarm, Black Oak Windfarm, in the Town of Enfield, and that it is the Legislature’s intent to encourage developers of such large-scale energy installations to negotiate payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) agreements in good faith with affected taxing jurisdictions. The Ithaca City School District and the Town of Enfield have already elected to opt out of the Section 487 exemption.
State law, it is noted, does not provide for a county to distinguish between small-scale residential and large-scale commercial power generation facilities related to such exemptions. Assessment Director Jay Franklin noted that, to date, there has been no documented effect on property value upon resale from installation of small-scale residential and commercial solar systems. The opt-out decision may be reconsidered, and potentially reversed, by the Legislature at its discretion in the future.
Five people spoke at the public hearing before the vote, expressing support of the windfarm project and concern about unintended consequences from opting out of the exemption. Legislature Chair Martha Robertson said the action will permit the PILOT agreement to be negotiated and approved before construction begins (which could happen by next year), then the opt-out provision could be reconsidered. Legislator Carol Chock suggested that staff investigate whether other measures could be developed to recognize installation of such residential alternative energy systems.
Legislator Kiefer had urged that the wording of the Local Law should be changed to more clearly state the Legislature’s intent, and stressed that was the reason behind her “no” vote.