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IDAs deprive citizens of their basic rights

It seems news stories on the arrogance of industrial development agencies go on and on. The latest being in relation to the proposed Amherst hotel. Does anyone pay attention to the law? Section 874 of the applicable General Municipal Law requires there to be “demonstrated public support for the proposed project.” From what has been reported, it seems there is no such support, only opposition. There is also a requirement that “the effect of the proposed project upon the environment” must be considered.

Go back to another controversial project, the move of a liquor store to Amherst. Section 862 Restrictions on Funds of the agency offers: “No financial assistance of the agency shall be used in respect of any project if the completion thereof would result in the removal of an industrial or manufacturing plant of the project occupant from one area of the state to another area of the state.” While the statute specifically specifies industrial facilities, the law has not yet caught up with how IDAs have created their own flexible policies.

Another aspect of IDA operation that never makes the news is the matter of agency fees that accrue to each agency upon completion of authorizations.

That such dictatorial bodies continue to exist under what is supposed to be our system of representative government is puzzling. There is a need for someone to put an IDA constitutionality question before a federal court. That would be in relation to IDAs’ right to operate as taxing authorities versus the representational revenue-raising authority.

The 14th Amendment is supposed to provide “the equal protection of the laws.” Carving out favorable tax conditions for individual property owners hardly meets that criteria. As these agencies take on ever more power, we the people are deprived of the basic rights that our nation’s founders tried to pass on to future generations.

Donald G. Hobel

North Tonawanda