Reader: Why give Amy's a tax break?

Supervisor explains why helping Amy's is helping Goshen

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— A reader with the handle esme45 posted the following question on The Chronicle's website under a recent story about Amy's Kitchen, a major food preparer that will be building a significant new plant in Goshen:

"Will someone explain why now it has only been disclosed to the public, why 60-tax free acres are being donated by the owners of Amy's Kitchen to something called 'Science of the Soul,' a non-religious group whereby up to 12,000 members will meet annually in a convention center being built on the property. Orange County is providing them a 15-year tax-free incentive and they in turn 'donate' to a tax free entity."

Chronicle reporter Geri Corey brought the reader's query to the Goshen town supervisor, Doug Bloomfield, who has been involved with securing Amy’s Kitchen to build its facility in Goshen. Here is what he said:

No surprises here — The mention of two parcels was not just recently disclosed to the public but was mentioned beforehand at the first planning board meeting: one parcel for the 600,000-square-foot facility on about 140-acres, and a 60-acre parcel for a 200,000-square-foot open-air conference center. The layout is on the map submitted at that time.

Visitors will spend in Goshen — The conference center will be used two to three days a year for meetings of the followers of Science of the Soul, which is primarily a philosophy that discusses how to be a better person. When participants come to Goshen, they will spend about $4 million while here on food, lodging, gas, according to estimates by Amy’s Kitchen. So they will contribute significantly to the community.

More tax revenue — As for tax dollars, the value of the property today is $790,400 and the current owner pays $33,500 in property taxes. Of that, the school district receives approximately 70 percent, totaling $23,450 yearly.

In the first year that Amy’s pays taxes, the amount will be $120,500; the second year will be $200,000; and the amount continues to grow each year until the 16th year, when the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program ends. Then, the full property tax amount is $1,705,712.34 annually. Again, the school district will receive about 70 percent of the collected tax amount, or $1,194,000. “That’s almost two million coming in as the property goes up in value,” said Bloomfield.

“I’m grateful people had the opportunity to speak at the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) public hearing, but I wish the people had spoken to those who have been working diligently to bring this business to Goshen," he said. "We’re proud of that — it’s a good thing. It’s a lot of money coming to our community. Businesses create revenues and jobs.”

Groups primarily working on Amy’s Kitchen coming to Goshen are the Orange County Partnership, the Town of Goshen, JEDI—Joint Economic Development Initiative, and the Orange County Executive’s office.

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