Medley Center developer makes tax payment

Posted at: 02/01/2013 5:56 PM
Updated at: 02/01/2013 6:18 PM
By: Ray Levato

Medley Centre developer Scott Congel made his 2013 tax payment just before Friday's five o'clock deadline. That's good news for taxpayers. News10NBC wanted to know where exactly that money goes.

Friday's payment is $373-thousand, which is split between Monroe County, the town of Irondequoit and the East Irondequoit School District. But the schools get the lion's share.

The sign at Medley Centre shows that someone came up with his own name for mall developer Scott Congel. Congel himself has shunned the media and officials say he always meets his tax obligation at the last minute.

News10NBC sat down with deputy school superintendent John Abbott.

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “So how do East Irondequoit school taxpayers know that they're getting a benefit from this?”

John Abbott, East Irondequoit Deputy School Superintendent, said, “They can see a benefit. A pilot payment is essentially a tax payment.  So like any tax payment, if it's not made then someone else has to pick up the slack.”

Congel has what's called a pilot agreement or payment in lieu of taxes.  It increases by five percent each year. And he's made a total of almost $1.4 million.

We took a look at how this year's payment breaks down. Like your own tax bill, the schools get the biggest benefit, nearly $245,000 this year alone. That equates to six-tenths of a percent on the district's tax rate that property owners would have to pay without the payment.

Congel promised to transform the mall, bring in big name stores, build condos and a hotel -- and a performing arts center. Irondequoit Town Supervisor Mary Joyce D'Aurizio is still hopeful Congel pulls it off.

Mary Joyce D'Aurizio, Irondequoit Town Supervisor, said, “It's an ambitious project. I think it's going to be difficult to achieve all of the phases that he would like to accomplish in this project simply because commercial financing is very difficult. This is upstate new york and the upstate economy has challenges. And you have to look at the demographics of the area as well.”

The school district drew a line in the sand last November when it rejected Congel's accounting claim that he met his requirement to invest $90-million into the project within two years.
Levato said, “But you don't believe what he says that he's invested $90 million into the project.

Abbott said, “Looking at the property, it's pretty clear he hasn't invested $90 million. You can identify a number of expenses that don't show up in bricks and mortar, but $90 million is a stretch in anyone's estimation.”

Abbott says he's met with Congel three times since December, the last time being last week.
He says this is a lot like the movie,  Groundhog Day.  It's the same story over and over.