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Letter: IDAs keep abusing taxpayers with unjustified abatements

IDAs keep abusing taxpayers with unjustified abatements

Instead of a half step, I think the Erie County Industrial Development Agency policy on market rate senior housing is a side step. I’d give an A in creative writing, an A in loophole creation but an F in public policy.

IDAs have been criticized for wanton gifting of tax revenue to any project that applies. And as opposed to changing behavior, they have apparently chosen the tactic that the best defense is a good offense. Well, mission accomplished. This policy is offensive.

IDAs are public benefit corporations meant to undertake economic development to benefit the sponsoring municipality and its inhabitants. Economic development is not community development; it’s meant to create jobs and increase wealth in the community. That’s the mission of IDAs.

Market rate housing, senior or otherwise, with IDA tax abatements is mission creep.

Local IDAs funded the University at Buffalo study of market rate senior housing to identify if IDAs should continue to approve incentives to senior projects. Good move. However, the study refuted the basic funding premise in place and concluded there was no economic justification for continuance. Even the first ECIDA policy draft called for the elimination of assistance. But, a year later, it extends the tax gifts via a new loophole of optional evaluation criteria, contrary to the study just purchased, inconsistent with the mission and seemingly in violation of the statute itself.

It’s time for the community, including elected officials, taxpayers and school districts, to say enough and to end the public largess gifted to developers on an entitlement basis for projects lacking public benefit.

Michele F. Marconi