The Costco proposal is getting a lot of buzz on this site. The developer and his attorney bandy about large sums of taxes and a lot of jobs flowing into community. This is what a developer, and if he has a good attorney does. Several years ago someone did an analysis of what the net amount of tax revenue a project actually returns to the community. It seems the county and the state takes their cut, in fact the state takes a double cut, I wish I still had a copy, but it was a very modest sum.
I am not against the Costco, but people should have a realistic view. If they expect some serious tax relief, and that is the sole reason for their support, you may be disappointed. I am sure Costco does not pay higher wages than the other big retailers, so enriching the population of the community is probably not going to happen.
I would rather see Costco than a high density housing complex on the site, which can really inflate a school budget.
One of the big dangers of large developments is that many times their property tax assessments are too high. In the beginning they will accept almost any number the town calculates, they have no downside in doing this as you will see in a moment. The parties representing a project want a quick approval, making a fuss over taxes, kind of takes away one of their value propositions. They have time, plenty of time, so they wait.
In time they usually hire a specialized law firm and file a tax certiorari. Expert commercial appraisers submit their opinion on behalf of the owner and a Judge makes a decision. The decision is usually against the municipality and a figure is set. Here is one example reported here today:
“The Riverwoods condominium development is set to get almost $1.4 million in property tax refunds, under the terms of a settlement approved by the New Castle Town Board.
The agreement, which was unanimously approved by the board at its Tuesday meeting, includes a total refund of $1,392,494.81.
Looking at each tax collecting entity's share of the payout, the agreement calls for the town giving a refund of $219,996.47 for 2009, 2010 and 2011 property taxes. Westchester County will refund $237,493.28 for that time period. The Chappaqua school district will have the largest share, at $935,005.06. The 2011 school tax refund will be accomplished through a tax cut for the 2012-13 school year, rather than a straight payment.”
As you can see the school district takes the biggest hit in this proceeding. Chappaqua maybe wealthier than Yorktown, but I am sure it hurts. Yorktown has had its share if large hits over the years.
Does this mean I feel the development should not move forward? No, I would suggest that the town bring in the same level of appraisers used in these actions. Appraising a large commercial development is far more complex than single family homes. In this way, an unpleasant surprise may be avoided.