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Protests scheduled Tuesday near the East Greenbush project

By Larry Rulison

June 21, 2011

EAST GREENBUSH -- Union leaders are planning to protest the use of tax subsidies by the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency for the FedEx Ground distribution center being built in East Greenbush.

The event will take place Tuesday down the road from the project on Route 4. It was planned by the Capital District Area Labor Federation, the Greater Capital Region Building & Construction Trades Council and the Labor-Religion Coalition.

The unions, in an announcement of the protest, say they want to ensure that corporate tax breaks end up creating "the good jobs our communities need."

The $65 million project is now under way at the site of the former Albany International Corp. factory that was shut down several years ago. The new facility is expected to be operational by 2012.

Economic impact studies on the project done last year show that the IDA was able to secure a traditional 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the project that would set property taxes for the facility at $344,000, the amount of taxes currently paid. The payment would gradually increase to roughly $450,000.

Scannell Properties of Indianapolis owns the property and is leasing the building to FedEx.

The IDA's 2010 annual report says that Scannell is spending $45 million to build the distribution center, while FedEx will spend $20 million on equipment.

A 2010 economic analysis on the project done by Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs on behalf of Scannell says the IDA was able to offer Scannell construction sales tax, personal property sales tax and mortgage tax exemptions totaling roughly $2.4 million.

Prairie Wells, an organizer with Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local #2, also estimates that FedEx likely is in line for $1.6 million in sales tax breaks through the IDA for equipment purchases.

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