This story was originally appeared in New York Focus, a nonprofit news publication investigating power in New York.
On a crisp evening last spring, nearly 100 people packed into an elementary school auditorium in the Hudson Valley town of Athens. They had shown up to weigh in on the future of the town’s largest taxpayer and recipient of one of the biggest property tax subsidies in New York: a natural gas power plant.
For two decades prior, the Athens Generating Plant had received tax breaks averaging roughly $25 million a year. But that deal was about to expire, and its owners argued that without the abatement, the plant might be forced to close. They were looking to renew.
While a few attendees supported the new tax agreement, most of the dozen-odd speakers asked an unelected local agency called the Greene County Industrial Development Authority, or IDA, to deny the power plant’s request. The proposed renewal was “a great deal for the IDA, a great deal for Athens Gen, and a lousy deal for the town of Athen... Read more