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Large crowd speaks out at Ginsberg's hearing

Oct 16, 2014 7:35 am
[caption id="attachment_36692" align="alignright" width="224"]David Ginsberg, the owner of Ginsberg's, at a Columbia County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) public hearing Oct. 15, 2014. David Ginsberg, the owner of Ginsberg's, at a Columbia County IDA public hearing Oct. 15, 2014.[/caption]

The Columbia County Industrial Development Agency held a public hearing Wed., Oct. 15, on plans to grant Ginsberg’s Foods a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement on the purchase of a 33-acre parcel located in Ghent and Claverack. The company intends to build a new refrigerated facility at that location, across from the Gerald R. Simons Industrial Park on state Rte. 66. Already under public scrutiny with headlines in the Register-Star such as "Ginsberg’s to pay CEDC $1 for 33 acres," this hearing was packed with both supporters of the local business -- mostly their employees and employees from businesses that work with the food company -- and citizens concerned about their tax bills. Owner David Ginsberg spoke early in the meeting about his company's deep roots and current business dangers. "Our competitive landscape is changing dramatically," Ginsberg said. "The two biggest companies in our industry -- Cisco and U.S. Foods -- announced they will merge.... And just a few weeks ago, Driscoll Foods, a competitor of ours in Northern New Jersey, received $18.5 million -- $18.5 million -- in tax credits to move nine miles down the road and build a new warehouse the size of what we're going to do." While Ginsberg certainly knew the exact figure his competitors got from government, many of the numbers here were not so clear. The value the business adds, and the expansion of the business will add, to the local economy was in much dispute throughout the meeting. IDA member James Mackerer, during a

[caption id="attachment_36720" align="alignleft" width="300"]The A.B. Shaw Firehouse in Claverack was standing room only for the meeting. The A.B. Shaw Firehouse in Claverack was standing room only for the meeting.[/caption]

presentation at the beginning of the meeting said, "I think that's roughly a payroll around $15 million a year," but then admitted that the construction spending included in those locally-added annual employment figures would end in three years. Others wondered aloud how much of those taxes on the millions in payrolls were headed to Albany or Washington, rather then to Columbia County coffers. Near the end of the meeting, the produce buyer at Ginsberg's just wanted to know where to put all the apples from Valatie's Yonder Farms that were piling up. "We have to rent tractor trailers to put the apples that we are selling to the local school districts."

Click here to listen to a WGXC recording of the entire meeting. PLAY AUDIO (1:14:38)

Click here to hear David Ginsberg, owner of Ginsberg's, speak about the food company's proposal for a PILOT with the Columbia County IDA. PLAY AUDIO (6:12)

Click here to hear Columbia County IDA member James Mackerer outline Ginsberg's PILOT proposal. PLAY AUDIO (5:26)

Click here to hear Ken Flood speak on the Columbia County IDA's cost-benefit analysis of the Ginsberg's proposed PILOT deal. PLAY AUDIO (4:51)

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="500"] Ginsberg's website includes this artist rendering of the proposed building.[/caption]

Read Arthur Cusano's take on the meeting in the Register-Star.
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