Skoufis opposes tax abatement for New Windsor hotels

Assemblyman and state senator-elect James Skoufis shot off a letter to the Orange County Industrial Development Agency on Friday to question the need for tax breaks for two proposed hotels in New Windsor and to outright oppose granting them property-tax cuts through what are known as payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT agreements.

The Woodbury Democrat, who has served three terms as an assemblyman and was just elected to succeed retiring Sen. Bill Larkin, appeared to be reacting to a Times Herald-Record article reporting that the IDA board had voted on Wednesday to consider tax breaks for a four-story Holiday Inn Express that will be built on the site of the closed Steak & Stein on Union Avenue. The developer, Banta Hospitality, is seeking a 10-year PILOT, $824,000 in sales-tax exemptions on construction costs, equipment and furniture, and a $24,000 mortgage tax exemption. Construction is set to start in March.

IDA officials said at the same meeting that they expect a developer to apply soon for tax breaks for a proposed hotel at Stewart Airport in New Windsor.

Skoufis, who represents New Windsor as an assemblyman and will do so in the Senate as well, noted in his letter to the IDA board that Orange County’s hotel industry is booming, thanks to tourist sites such as Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and the future Legoland theme park, a major attraction being built in Goshen. He pointed to the five hotels proposed in Woodbury alone in the last year as a sign that building hotels in Orange is lucrative without taxpayer assistance.

He urged the IDA to reject PILOTs for the two New Windsor hotels and any others proposed in eastern or central Orange County.

“These subsidies are unnecessary, provide an unfair competitive advantage, and would only act to pad the profits of hotel owners,” Skoufis wrote. “Our local taxpayers should not be subsidizing this sort of greed-driven behavior.”

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