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Tax breaks nixed in Webster

Webster, N.Y. -- The County of Monroe Industrial Development Authority (COMIDA) terminated its tax-break agreement with a developer who failed to make payments to the town, village, school district and county.

I have missed some payments, developer Neil Bauman said. We have been fighting to keep this thing above water for the better part of three years.

Under the name EBaum's Webster Ventures, LLC, Bauman and his son Eric have worked to redevelop one block of East Main Street between Lapham Park and Kircher Park. Now home to Prime Steakhouse, Rubinos Italian Submarines and Sports Bar, and an Off-Track Betting parlor, Bauman said he completely changed the village.

This was 2.2 acres of a dirt road," Bauman said. "There was nothing here.

Bauman said his life savings, retirement fund and all of his money have been put into the property.

I absolutely regret putting a nickel into the Town of Webster at this point, he said.

Town Supervisor Rob Nesbitt asked the county to end its tax-break deal with Bauman last week, and Bauman was officially cut from COMIDA Wednesday.

I owe him $27,000, Bauman said. Weve got $6 million invested in this place. Really, Ron? Get me off the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program?

Nesbitt pointed out the Baumans are about $200,000 behind in payments.

Were talking $27,000 for the town, $14,000 for the village, $90,000 for the school district, $50,000 for the county," Nesbitt said. "Those are big bucks."

Bauman blamed the recession for any missed or partial payments.

Im not thrilled about it, but I dont have any choice, Bauman said. I mean, people did not come and lease the space, now they are.

Bauman said things just started to turn around, and then his tax-break got taken away.

Nesbitt said its just not fair to keep giving away taxpayer money to businesses that arent holding up their end of the deal.

I have bills to pay, Nesbitt said. When you take away my tax dollars from these businesses, then I have to get from somewhere else, and it's not fair to the rest of the residents of the Town of Webster for him to get a tax break and other people have to make it up.

After seeing what happened with the Medley Centre in Irondequoit, Nesbitt said he couldnt sit back and watch the missed payments add up.

If I were to let it go, Id be in the same shape that Irondequoit is in right now, Nesbitt said. The taxpayers would be out those dollars and maybe, in my mind, thats why Im stopping it now.

Bauman said he wants to continue with the project, but having to pay property taxes at the full assessed value could be difficult.

Were very close to being done here, and unfortunately this is just another obstacle, but well get around it, he said.

Bauman said he is looking at a new private lender, and is in talks with a firm interested in buying the building in the back of the property for about $1.5 million.

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Washington Times