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Palmateer says he filed suit against Greene County IDA tax break for Athens Gen

Nov 30, 2023 1:03 am

Raymond Pignone reports in Columbia-Greene Media that former Greene County legislator and Athens town supervisor Lee Palmateer says he has filed an Article 78 lawsuit with state Supreme Court in Ulster County to nullify the Greene County Industrial Development Agency’s approval of an application by New Athens Generating Company for a tax break. Greene County was not trying to lure the power plant to Greene County, it was giving the private company another 20 years of property tax exemptions on top of the 20-year agreement it previously had. Palmateer said in court papers, “This case is about the Greene County Industrial Development Agency trading the interests of the public for the enrichment of itself and its paying client.... [The IDA] stood to reap a $332,000 ‘transaction fee’ and 20 annual ‘monetized power payments’ of up to $285,714 each from [Athens Gen] contingent upon approval of the application.” The lawsuit names New Athens Generating Company, Greene County, the Catskill Central School District, and the Town of Athens as respondents. The lawsuit aims to eliminate the power plant's tax break, require a formal appraisal of the property by the Town of Athens, and enforce the Greene County Code of Ethics. Greene County IDA counsel Paul Goldman said on Nov. 29 that he has not been served with the petition and that, “It’s difficult to comment on a document without having seen any of it..... I’ll have further comment when we’re served with the papers.” Many members of the public spoke out against the tax break at public hearings before it was approved earlier this year. But Greene County Legislator Ed Bloomer was just about the only local official to oppose the project, even though he did not. While he voted no, he said he personally favored the tax break. Bloomer said he voted with the public opinion rather than his own opinion that the tax break is good, saying, “There is a significant volume of people in Athens who disagree with that―people I respect, being far more learned than I am. I want to honor their voice. I vote a reluctant no.” Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com.