Wal-Mart Distribution could pay more under new PILOT


By Jim Poole

The Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Sharon Springs may be adding to the local tax base.
Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry told county supervisors Friday that the distribution center’s PILOT agreement––payment in lieu of taxes––expires next year, and a new one could yield more money.
Wal-Mart and local officials arranged the 20-year PILOT in 1995, when the distribution center was built. PILOTs, which are tax breaks, are common to encourage companies to bring jobs.
Wal-Mart did bring jobs––hundreds of them. But now that the old PILOT is expiring, it’s time for a new one.
The expiring PILOT has Wal-Mart pay $120,000 total each year to the county, Town of Sharon, Village of Sharon Springs and the Sharon Springs School District.
Under that PILOT, the school, town and village each receive a little more than 30 percent of the $120,000, and the county gets nine percent, Mr. Cherry said.
The proposed PILOT would have Wal-Mart pay $950,000 per year for 10 years. Forty percent would go to the school, and the town, village and county would each get 20 percent.
The proposal was “a cooperative agreement by all” local parties, Mr. Cherry told supervisors.
Wal-Mart has not yet approved the new PILOT, but Mr. Cherry believes the corporate giant will do so.
The distribution center is assessed at $59 million, which means Wal-Mart’s tax bill would be $2.9 million if there were no PILOT, Mr. Cherry said.
“We want them to stay,” he said, noting that if the tax bill is too high, Wal-Mart could simply leave and take the jobs with it.
Mr. Cherry added that he believed the new PILOT amount is fair even though it’s much higher than the previous one.
The supervisors’ Finance Committee approved the new PILOT, and their action was ratified by the full board.