Taxpayers foot bill for IDA exemptions

Tax exemptions granted by industrial development agencies to commercial developers are revenues lost. Money that does not come in is a loss of income for towns, the county, our schools and the state of New York. And it is a staggering amount of money.

Exemptions shift the tax burden from those receiving this benefit to all other taxpayers. Homeowners and other commercial payers thus pay more taxes because some owners pay less than their fair share.

This occurs largely outside the public eye, lacking in both transparency and accountability.

The Amherst IDA is the poster child on how not to undertake economic development. Economic development means to expand the economic pie – to expand and grow businesses and jobs and expand the tax base. Not to shift or rearrange the pie pieces, or to steal a piece of the economic pie from your neighbor.

The Amherst IDA has pirated jobs from Buffalo and, with the move of Premier Liquor from Tonawanda to Amherst, shifted jobs 3 miles away. The Amherst IDA is both a jobs pirate and a pie thief.

In a report submitted to the state’s Authorities Budget Office last month for the period ending Dec. 31, 2012, the Amherst IDA reported net tax exemptions or net loss of revenue of $5 million. For 138 active commercial projects, the total exemptions granted were $12 million and total payments in lieu of taxes were $7 million, resulting in a loss of $5 million in revenue in one year.

Do the math. Determine for yourself what the loss in revenue is over a five-year period. Decide for yourself if you think this is fair and equitable, or if our elected leaders have been open and forthright in this disclosure.

Residents of Amherst will evaluate their leaders on Election Day. Amherst, we can do better.

Michele F. Marconi

Friends of Mike’s Pond