ADVERTISEMENT

IDAs have no authority to give away our money

Again we are presented with a controversial Erie County Industrial Development Agency project – Uniland and Delaware North. IDAs exist outside of any constitutional authority. They do not act as required by the Constitution as a republican form of government. Article I, Section 7 provides that raising revenue is to be the responsibility of elected representatives. The 14th Amendment requires equal protection of the law. Selective tax considerations hardly meet that objective.

IDA board members are put in place by legislative appointments based on business/political connections. Once in place they operate independently. Elected legislators relinquish all control. The result is that IDAs have become dictatorships. Voting board members are rarely publicly identified.

Duly enacted tax laws of a county, city, town or school board cannot individually be overcome by a non-elected body. The way around that situation is to convert private property to public property. One system relies on a lease/lease back to the business operator. Property taxes are replaced by payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, a percentage of normal tax. Sales taxes on materials and mortgage taxes are subject to elimination.

For each approved IDA project, the agency will bill the client business generally a 1 percent fee, based on the value of the project. There is no public accounting of how these monies are used. Strangely, no organization that has been publicly critical of IDA operations has seen fit to court challenge state statutes that are well beyond constitutional provisions.

Donald G. Hobel

North Tonawanda