The governor brings his tax-free plan to Plattsburgh

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was at SUNY Plattsburgh this morning pitching his idea for tax free economic development zones at SUNY campuses.

Cuomo is pushing this hard; besides Clinton County, he’s got stops today in Broome, Genesee, Oneida and Westchester counties today as well. The idea is to provide a 10-year abatement of all taxes — sales, property, corporate, state income taxes and fees – for the business in the zone and its employees.

Brian Mann will have a full story tomorrow morning, on air and on our news page. But more details of the plan are emerging…sort of.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes his Tax-Free NY pitch to a Plattsburgh audience.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes his Tax-Free NY pitch to a Plattsburgh audience.

I talked with Potsdam Village Mayor Steve Yurgartis, who said with 70% of the property in the village already tax exempt, he grimaces anytime anybody says “tax free.”  But he hadn’t gotten any hard information from the Cuomo Administration yet, so he’s keeping an open mind. That brought a call from the governor’s Albany office (“one important point…”) saying this latest plan won’t take any more land off the tax rolls. Here’s what the governor’s press release from yesterday says:

SUNY Campuses and Surrounding Area: Tax-Free communities will include SUNY campuses and an additional 200K sq. ft. that could be located within one mile of the campus. ESD would have the authority to grant a waiver to go beyond 1 mile. For projects on public education campuses, plans will be reviewed by SUNY and ESD. Plans that do not meet the Tax-Free NY program requirements will be disapproved by ESD.

Over the phone, I was told the additional, off-campus square footage would be subject to PILOT agreements with local authorities. The idea is to protect the local tax rolls. But as to the state taxes, the governor told NCPR in Plattsburgh that he’s happy to take the hit if it’ll help restart the upstate economy.

20 Comments on “The governor brings his tax-free plan to Plattsburgh”

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  1. The Original Larry says:

    From the information available so far, these seems like another half-assed scheme that Cuomo hopes will look good on his resume. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have thought it all the way through to consider whether it will benefit the entire state or not. First question: what help is there for those who don’t live in one of the development zones? First answer: none that I can see.

  2. Paul says:

    I am skeptical that this is going to have much effect. Business locate where they can be successful. It is a very simple concept that seems to be overlooked all the time. Last time I checked businesses are operating almost tax free in a lot of places with supposedly high tax rates anyway? Fix the systemic problems in the tax code then everyone will pay less tax across the board and you will not need these kinds of business bunkers.

  3. Mervel says:

    Yeah I don’t think continual gifting of narrow tax benefits work. The other problem is of course local schools, so once again; the net effect would be that everyone else in the communities property taxes would go up to make up for the loss of taxes incurred with this plan, the costs of the schools are not going down.

  4. Peter Hahn says:

    The idea (I think) is that many successful hightech companies start/locate near Universities. New York has many great universities and Cuomo would like to capture some of that high-tech energy that presently goes to Boston, Silicon Valley or Research Triangle etc. This proposal is to give them a reason to locate near our universities instead of someone else’s.

  5. Kathy says:

    When is his term over?!

  6. Pete Klein says:

    I’m sure everyone who doesn’t get a tax break will really appreciate having their taxes go up to help pay for the added burden placed upon local governments and schools by these tax free moochers.

  7. JDM says:


    So Cuomo thinks “Tax Free” and “Economic Development” go together.


    But we can’t cut taxes except on state-owned campuses.


    We are becoming a nation of idiots.

  8. mervel says:

    Does Boston and Silicon Valley have really low taxes?

  9. Peter Hahn says:

    Mervel – no they (Boston and Silicon Valley) have really high taxes. But they also have a tremendous concentration of world class universities producing a highly skilled workforce and highly educated young entrepreneurs.

  10. Peter Hahn says:

    Guys – this is for new stuff. No one’s taxes go up, just some new people dont have to pay any taxes for a while if they start a new business. Otherwise they would start the new business somewhere else (in some other state).

  11. Peter Hahn says:

    For example, Clarkson University has a great engineering program, SUNY Potsdam is geting their Computer Science program back up, and St Lawrence University produces lots of highly educated bright young people. If any of the kids coming out of any of those institutions had a great idea for a start-up, instead of going to NewYork City or Boston or California, they might begin their company in the North Country under this program. It would create good, high-tech jobs in an area that really needs good jobs. Thats the idea anyway.

    This doesnt cost anybody anything. If you are asking what good does it do you personally – maybe nothing.

  12. mervel says:

    Peter I am not totally against this, it seems though that it would be better to really look at why these companies locate the places that they do. We already have enterprise zones, it just seems instead of this narrow patchwork of giveaways and zones and deals, it would be better to create an overall environment that is friendly to business.

  13. mervel says:

    Also consider you are a start-up in Canton. It would mean you would be living in Canton also, so you would own a home. Now it might be nice to not pay some business taxes if you locate there, but you are also locating in a place that has basically said property taxes are never going down, that they can’t support their own public school, that the county is going to have to raise taxes to stay operating, how are any of those things business friendly?

  14. Peter Hahn says:

    Canton is still a whole lot cheaper than Silicon Valley or Boston.

  15. The Original Larry says:

    Yeah, I can see all those tech companies leaving Silicon Valley and relocating to Plattsburgh or Canton or Potsdam, not to mention all the start-ups lured to the North Country by the tech synergy we’ve got going or the well-educated labor force just biding their time down at Stewarts. You can’t even make a cell phone call from large stretches of the Northway and Cuomo thinks tax breaks are going to lure businesses to NY? People and businesses are LEAVING NY because of its unfriendly tax structure, lack of technology infrastructure and clown-college education system. We need desperately need to get our own house in order before we can hope to attract people and businesses. When providing internet access across the North Country gets as much attention as building casinos we might be taken seriously.

  16. Pete Klein says:

    Peter H., I beg to disagree because there would be a cost.
    Yes, we could use some population growth but if the growth occurs, so too does the demand for services. If the growth doesn’t result in growth of tax revenues, everyone who is excluded from the no tax deal will pay more in taxes.

  17. mervel says:


    True. I think the property tax rates are comparable to Boston and higher than Silicon Valley and our income taxes are about the same, however the overall costs of real estate would be much less.

    I am not dissing Canton, I think finding ways to encourage micro start ups would be a great idea. I personally am just not convinced that it is always about one specific tax break. I think it would be interesting to see if this would work or not, I guess I am being overly critical as I don’t really see the downside of Coumo’s plan I just think there may be better ways. At the same time why not give it a shot?

  18. The Original Larry says:

    Nothing is free, not education for foreign students, not insurance for the uninsurable and not tax incentives for businesses. That people actually think so is profoundly depressing. That politicians continue to propose these half-assed schemes instead of real, honest-to-god solutions is an enduring testament to the naiveté of the American people and our misplaced belief that everything will eventually come right without anyone having to break a sweat. We’ve been operating with a “lotto” mentality for almost 70 years now and the results are painfully obvious.

  19. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:


    Governor Cuomo’s current term will be continue through the end of 2014. He will be re-elected to a second term (by a landslide) in November 2014. Unfortunately, he will be largely absent from Albany during his second term while he campaigns for the 2016 Presidential Election.

  20. locker says:

    Peter Hahn when more people burden the system and don’t pay those who do pay will pay more. That’s a pretty simple concept to grasp isn’t it? No taxes for 10 years and thos who work there pay no income taxes either. A stupid plan supported by people who have no clue.

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