The owner of a large hangar complex at Griffiss International Airport wants to substantially reduce its payments made to the county in lieu of property taxes, starting this year. The current schedule calls for $462,468 in each of the next three years. However, 394 Hangar Road Corp. now wants to pay the county $200,000 this year, $150,000 in 2016 and $100,000 in 2017 . . .But if you have followed the goings on at Griffiss "International" Airport, you may have a sense of deja vu. About a year ago, per a 10/16/14 Sentinel article, 394 Hangar Road Corp. requested from the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) a $300,000 per year reduction in its PILOT payments, which were then about $750,000/year.
“Without a modification to the existing PILOT agreement, the building will not generate a positive cash-flow,” [said] a summary of the proposal.Why was the building not generating a positive cash-flow?
The PILOT changes are being sought as annual refunds received by 394 Hangar Road through the state’s Empire Zone program are starting to decrease and will be zero after four years.Since the Empire Zone funds were not available to governmental entities, and since the payments to the County go into operation of the airport, it sure looks like 394 Hangar Road Corp. was used to funnel state Empire Zone funds to cover Oneida County airport's operating expenses. BTW, 394 Hangar Road Corp. is not just another private company. It is a creature of Mohawk Valley EDGE, with whom Oneida County contracts for economic development services . . .
The 2014 request was subsequently approved with the reduction effective for 2014, so if the current request is approved, the taxpayers would be on the hook to make up the difference of about $2,100,000 over 2014 - 2017. (Is it any wonder why the County has taken $2,500,000 this year from Oneida Nation gaming revenue for "tax stabilization?")
The Sentinel's current article indicates more clouds are on Griffiss "International's" horizon:
No matter what the IDA decides, PILOT payments from 394 Hangar Road will end after 2017. The county has the option of assuming ownership of the complex in 2018, a status that would make it exempt from taxes. And even if ownership remains with 394 Hangar Road, zero payments are required in 2018 and after. . . .When all is said and done, as of 2018, between the $750,000/year in lost PILOT payments and another $750,000/year in lost rental from the old airport, the taxpayers will have to make up an additional $1.5 million per year in lost revenue on top of what they had been paying, as of 2013, to keep the airport running. While the proceeds from the sale of the old airport may mask the airport's true financial picture for awhile, the discontinuance of both the PILOT and the rental income suggest that . . .
Additionally, the county is selling the former county airport in Whitestown to the state for $10 million later this year. The state has been leasing the older airfield with the annual rent being counted as revenue in the Griffiss budget since the airport moved from Whitestown to Griffiss in 2007. New York is paying $743,342 this year for the Whitestown location, which is home to the state Emergency Preparedness Center. That revenue stream ends when the sale is completed.
Griffiss "International" Airport's house of cards, built on payments from higher levels of government, is about to come tumbling down.