BY JEREMY MOULE
Last year, the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency approved more projects than any other IDA in New York, says a report from the state Authorities Budget Office. But those projects have not resulted in the most private investment.
COMIDA approved 40 projects, totaling $81.7 million in private investment and approximately $1.5 million in various tax exemptions, the report says. The Niagara County IDA had 14 projects totaling $432.3 million in private investment and $4.4 million in exemptions. One of those projects is a massive $400 million paper mill, however, says an end-of-the-year slideshow from that county.
The job creation figures are trickier. COMIDA says it’s gaining 494 full-time equivalent jobs through its projects, placing it among the top IDA’s in terms of job creation. Niagara, on the other hand, expects to gain 61 full-time equivalent positions. But the Niagara County IDA also anticipates the creation of 3,400 temporary construction jobs, while COMIDA expects 330.
Colin O’Malley, organizing director with Metro Justice, says the tax breaks mean less money for school districts and local governments. So if the jobs don’t materialize or don’t pay particularly well, that raises questions about the value of the tax breaks to the community.
“There’s very little follow-up after the deals are brokered,” O’Malley says.
Metro Justice belongs to statewide coalitions that advocate for claw-back provisions, which allow IDA’s to recover tax money when companies don’t live up to their promises.
For comparison, here’s how a few other IDA’s stack up, according to the Authorities Budget Office report:
• The Amherst IDA reported investments of $119 million for five projects, approximately $672,000 in tax exemptions, and a gain of 496 full-time equivalent positions. The projects created 41 FTE construction jobs.
• The Erie County IDA reported five projects totaling approximately $20 million in private investment and $636,500 in tax exemptions. It expects an increase of 18 full-time equivalent positions and created 145 FTE construction jobs.
• The Onondaga County IDA reported four projects with $23.1 million in private investment and $325,800 in tax exemptions. It expects an increase of 40 full-time equivalent positions and created 236 FTE construction jobs.