Are IDA Tax Breaks A Good Investment?
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They're offered to stimulate the economy, to put people back to work.
"Are we getting our monies worth?" asked Allison Duwe of the Coalition for Economic Justice. “That answer is no."
When the tax breaks expire, some say, the jobs expire too.
"Last month in Erie County, 41 warehouse workers lost their jobs,” Duwe said.
In October, VWR Education announced it was closing its science kit and boreal laboratories in Tonawanda and consolidating its operations in Henrietta at Ward's Natural Science.
"We've shifted jobs at taxpayer expense,” said Duwe.
In 2008, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency approved a tax incentive package for Ward's $2.4 million expansion at the Henrietta site. In light of the closing in Tonawanda, it's a deal some say COMIDA should rescind before it's too late.
Under the 2008 agreement, Ward's was required to maintain its job base in Monroe County, add at least seven jobs in three years, and maintain 215 for the next ten years.
"There was a business decision made in Tonawanda but it doesn't impact our pilot as it is executed,” said Judy Seil.
Seil is COMIDA’s executive director. She says Ward's has added 49 jobs since 2009 and currently has 257 employees with a payroll of $11.7 million.
"We do a benefit to cost ratio on every project to make sure that it's at least a two to one we are getting a return on the investment the companies are making,” Seil said.
Wilmorite Incorporated is moving forward with a multi-million dollar expansion to the Mal at Greece Ridge. The company says these kinds of IDA tax breaks are deal breakers.
"A majority of the developers and owners in this part of the state wouldn't proceed with any of these projects unless they could obtain a lot of these incentives. The return just isn't there. That's the world we're living in today,” said Kevin Wilmot of Wilmorite.
Some say companies that take breaks have an obligation to do better, whether they meet their contractual obligations or not.
"IDA's aren't creating jobs anymore. They're creating deals,” said Duwe.
VWR says the tax exemptions the company received had nothing to do with its decision to consolidate warehouses.
The Coalition for Economic Justice says it will continue to pressure on officials in Monroe County to not only rescind its agreement with Ward’s, but to use clawback provision to get back lost tax revenue.