Tax breaks for projects deserve tougher scrutiny

As an Erie County taxpayer, I’ve read with interest various articles that have explained many of the pros and cons of various IDA tax breaks, often pitting one Industrial Development Agency against another.

A July 18 Buffalo News article stated that the expansion of the Orchard Heights assisted-living facility won a $3.8 million tax break from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency because the care facility was eligible, may create seven full-time and 16 part-time jobs and may generate $670,000 in taxes during the seven years covered.

The development company’s CEO, Mark Hamister, stated that the expansion will fill a need where occupancy is running at about 92 percent; that the facility has a vacancy rate of 3 percent; and they turn away 10 to 20 senior citizens each month. Hamister also states that the expansion will be meeting less than 20 percent of the present demand.

I believe that in this type of “supply and demand” environment the project should be successful without the $3.8 million tax break and this also sets a precedent for the next useless tax break.

Sorry, Erie County taxpayers, I think we’ve been robbed of $3.8 million.

Bernard Jemiolo