COMIDA approved the proposal in a unanimous vote Tuesday.
WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Fairlife/Coca-Cola has asked for $63,441,300 in Monroe County tax breaks. There is a public hearing on Monday at 5 p.m. at the Van Ingen Court Building in Webster. Following that, there is a COMIDA meeting on Tuesday from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at City Place, where the measure can be approved, declined, or tabled.
They made the application to COMIDA (County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency), which amounts to about a tenth of the total project investment. Those include a PILOT agreement — a sum paid instead of taxes — and a deferred 20-year agreement.
The facility is estimated to be $660 million. Earlier estimates had the investment listed as $650 million.
This plan would provide new jobs to local residents, allow more income for local farmers, and bring in more money overall to the city.
Tom Flaherty, Webster Town Supervisor said in the meeting on Monday that he thinks this is a great idea.
“In my opinion, I’m an accountant by trade, the benefits that something like this is going to bring to the whole area far outweigh the tax exemptions that Coke-Fairlife are receiving from this proposal,” he said.
Webster resident David Wohlrab attended the hearing, he said although he’s not against the plan, he does think the taxpayers should be given a proposal that’s more affordable.
“I ask you to reject this proposal and consider what I call the ten-year 10% plan starting out with payment of 10% in year one increasing 10% annually. I think it’s a fairer deal for the taxpayers, “said Wohlrab.
Flaherty said although he respects Wohlrab’s opinion, he deems it subjective and thinks opportunities like the said proposal don’t come often.
“If we don’t as a community do things like these tax exemptions then we’re not going to get opportunities like Coke-Fairlife,” Flaherty explains.
In a letter to the community, Tom Flaherty said he would be supporting the deal in a formal letter, and declined a further interview.
Flaherty also said in the letter that “Coke-fairlife could not formally apply until SEQRA process was completed which occurred at the Town Board meeting on September 7, 2023.”
The state made the announcement in May that the Coca-Cola subsidiary would be building a massive dairy processing and distribution center in Webster.
As stated in the spring, the facility is expected to bring 250 jobs to Webster and Monroe County. It is expected to be open by late 2025 — with construction due to start this year — and fairlife says their “expected utilization is equal to an estimated 5 million pounds of locally sourced milk per day.”
The state says this is part of their “Finger Lake Forward” initiative, which is designed to help “revitalize” communities across the state.
Also in the spring, Empire State Development will be providing $21 million in assistance for the project and the state says Monroe County is chipping in $20 million.
Breakdown of the PILOT agreement:
Statement from Monroe County Executive Adam Bello:
“The fairlife project is a historic milestone for economic development in Monroe County
and a catalyst for economic growth in our region. It is projected to create more than 500
jobs during the construction phase, 250 permanent jobs upon completion in 2025 and
directly impact over 850 dairy farming jobs, benefiting dairy farmers and agribusiness
throughout the Finger Lakes, Western New York and beyond.
The leadership at The Coca-Cola Company and fairlife LLC have shown immense
confidence in Monroe County’s business climate and workforce. Their investment
underscores the potential they see in our community to drive this transformative and
groundbreaking project forward.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Town of Webster’s leadership, including Town
Supervisor Tom Flaherty, for their support and collaboration in bringing this project to
fruition and to COMIDA Board Chair Ann Burr and fellow members of the COMIDA Board
of Directors for helping Monroe County secure this win.
We also express our appreciation to Governor Kathy Hochul and Empire State
Development. Their support has been instrumental in making this development a reality.