Boundaries trip up plans

The governments of Fulton and Montgomery counties want to build a regional business park, but they need the town of Mohawk and the city of Johnstown to agree to a tax revenue-sharing agreement first. Despite years of talking about the issue, with both counties spending taxpayer money to study the feasibility of the project, no deal is in place and no deal appears to be on the horizon.

In order to build the park, which Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz tells us would be a large site that could be marketed for large-scale projects, the open land in the town of Mohawk must be annexed into the city of Johnstown where it can be connected to water and sewer. That won’t happen until Mohawk and Johnstown agree on a plan to split the revenue. When Mayor Sarah Slingerland was in office, the sticking point seemed to have been that Mohawk wanted a permanent agreement, while she wanted a limited deal. During the mayoral campaign, Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius stated he would support a permanent revenue-sharing agreement, if that’s what it took to build the park, but he’s been in office since January and no deal has been reached, despite Julius often talking about his support for “high-tech” jobs.

Another stumbling block may be stalling the deal now. The business park would be in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, which would be the largest recipient of any property tax dollars generated by the park, while the Greater Johnstown School District would be left out of the equation.

Officials in the two counties need to find a way to overcome this inability to share tax revenues, which won’t exist if local leaders can’t decide to put the economic interests of our community ahead of the narrow interests of municipal and school district boundaries.