Legislators agree to Apollo plan; new conditions in the deal
March 16, 2012 —
The Sullivan County legislators voted unanimously on March 15 to pass a resolution that transfers parcels at and around the Apollo Plaza to the Sullivan County Funding Corporation for the purpose of attracting a big box store and other retail outlets.
The new legislators on the board had blocked movement on the proposal until questions about the deal were cleared up, and until new language was inserted into the related resolution to assure the lawmakers, they said, that they were getting the best possible deal for the taxpayers.
Part of the land in question was purchased by the county back in 2002 for $3.5 millionm, for the purpose of expanding the landfill. The landfill was ultimately closed, but the taxpayers will still be paying off the bond on the land until 2018.
Legislator Cora Edwards wanted to be certain that any revenues coming from the sale of that acreage be used to pay down the bond, and ultimately an amendment was added to the resolution which calls for the establishment of a reserve fund to achieve that goal. Also, the amendment says that if the development company, Chancellor Livingston, which is trying to lure a big box store, is unsuccessful after 18 months, the property reverts back to the county at no cost to the county.
Edwards sent an email to supporters that said, “New jobs and investment are vital, but so are rebuilding the county budget and making sure that every business…delivers on its promises. By placing funds in a special account to repay the county’s bond obligations, making sure that title to the land reverts to the county in case the deal falls through…this resolution guarantees a fair deal for everyone."
Another concern about the proposed deal is that an acre of property, which includes the old movie theater, is to be carved out as space for a non-profit. It has been widely reported in the past the non-profit is the Sullivan County YMCA.
Mike Dollard, owner of the Monticello Fitness testified at the public hearing before the vote that he was strongly opposed to including a space for the YMCA in the project, in part, because the organization already has many advantages over his tax-paying business because of the YMCA’s tax exempt status.
Others speakers also expressed objections to the deal.