The PILOT program has permitted the perception of better financial control than has been implemented.
My letter of last week was not written as a letter to the editor; it was to alert the media to what I perceived was an issue needing attention. My letter contained calculation errors which a Democrat and Chronicle reporter quickly brought to my attention. I immediately sent out a corrected letter, seen below.
However to the larger issue: The $90 million PILOT program given the Mall at Greece Ridge does need additional public scrutiny. The fact that this was stated as a one-year program that was revenue neutral sounds fishy. Who benefits from a one-year program that is revenue neutral? What has been agreed to for the following years? I urge those who approved this program to be more forthcoming. The public should know the true costs and benefits this program is expected to deliver. If there are agreements as to future years, those agreement should be made known to the public now.
Below is my corrected letter:
I recently characterized the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program granted to the Mall at Greece Ridge, as a workaround of the 2 percent tax levy limit. I was wrong. Meaghan McDermott of the Democrat and Chronicle shared with me the formulae used by the state to calculated the tax cap limit. That formula demonstrates my error. Sorry.
However, the PILOT program has permitted the perception of better financial control than has been implemented. Specifically, the PILOT calculation describes a tax cap limit of 1.7 percent; and a school district proposed tax levy increase of 1.1 percent. However if the PILOT program had not been implemented, and all other figures were held constant, the tax cap limit would have been 3.9 percent and the proposed budget 3.1 percent (all figures approximate). Quite a difference! If the PILOT program is in not repeated next year the district will have to report a huge increases in these equivalent figures. Hope they do use consistent reporting.
Also: The formulae provided by the state clearly isolate the factors which permit a tax levy over 2 percent. In the Greece case there is a year-to-year increase of over $1 million in local capital costs and $150,000 in addition pension costs. Nothing wrong with what was done, but the perception of a tax levy cap of 2 percent might be encouraging a complacency that is not merited.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As noted, an email to the Post from Tom Kackmeister was mistaken for a letter to the editor and published in last week’s edition. The newspaper regrets the error.