"Ithaca, NY" by James Willamor is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

ITHACA, N.Y. — In a close vote Wednesday, the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency approved an amendment to Ithaca Beer Company’s tax abatement.

The brewing company asked the IDA for a five-year freeze on its current tax abatement to offset a large, unexpected cost. With the amended plan, Ithaca Beer Company will save about $165,265 in abated taxes, over ten years. The amount is less than half of what Ithaca Beer Company had to pay for a new sewage pre-treatment facility, something IBC Owner Dan Mitchell said he was not aware he needed when the company expanded on Five Mile Drive in Ithaca around 2015.

“I’m trying to address the surprise of this pH adjustment system that potentially I should have known about,” Mitchell said. “But generally speaking with our building and development we go to the experts in town and it’s surprising that between the safety engineers, the town board and all the people that deal with the permitting that you have to do it was never brought to our attention.”

Related: Amid financial strain, Ithaca Beer Company seeks five-year freeze on tax abatement

In response, TCIDA amended the language of Ithaca Beer’s PILOT, shifting the concern to financial strain caused by the treatment facility. 

In earlier meetings, IBC had also cited an increase in market competition as a factor negatively impacting the company. 

The vote came to a tiebreaker, with Chair Rich John casting the final “yes” to amend Ithaca Beer’s PILOT agreement. John Guttridge, Mike Sigler and Laura Lewis voted against the five-year freeze, while Martha Robertson, Jennifer Tavares and Leslyn Mcbean-Clairborne voted in favor. 

Critics of the new freeze question if the city has a responsibility to inform property owners of the pH regulations. 

“I think with the amendment we’re being clear it is reacting to specific hardship that should’ve been known but wasn’t known when the project was developed, I’m going to vote yes,” John said. 

See the resolution and amended PILOT here:

Authorizing Resolution of IDA September 11, 2019 (PILOT Amendment) (Nut Brown Realty, LLC) (4841-0629-3667… by Kelsey O’Connor on Scribd

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated with the amended plan, Ithaca Beer Company will save about $300,000 in property taxes over several year and that the amount is roughly equivalent to what Ithaca Beer Company had to pay for a new sewage pre-treatment facility; Ithaca Beer Company will save about $165,265 in abated taxes, over ten years. The amount is less than half of what Ithaca Beer Company had to pay for a new facility. 

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com