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Letter: Report does not validate Amherst IDA’s existence

Report does not validate Amherst IDA’s existence

The king (Amherst Industrial Development Agency CEO James Allan) and his subjects (AIDA board members) lived happily ever after, believing that its existence has been validated. At least that is what the AIDA wants Amherst residents and everyone else to believe based on a recent report prepared by the Center for Governmental Research, commissioned and paid for by the AIDA and recently reported in The News.

Allowing that statistics cited in this report are correct, they are nothing but stand-alone silos of data. Stating or implying that this data justifies the existence of IDAs, as presently configured, is predicated on two false precepts: first, that all business entities claiming that they would leave the area without tax relief actually would leave the area; second, none of this economic activity would have occurred had IDAs not existed to facilitate this development. While tax and favorable financing relief can play a significant role to further local and regional economic development, they should be granted only to those businesses that commit to a significant number of new hires up front, with significant clawback penalties for those businesses that do not meet the commitments.

Spending AIDA money on this report is bad enough, but trying to pass it off to justify its existence, and indirectly other IDAs, deserves to be challenged every time stories and reports like this appear in the public realm, even if the message continues to fall on the deaf ears of our elected officials. Allowing agencies to have the autonomy they have to continue giving away our tax dollars without meaningful reform over how they operate is a classic example why only 24.5 percent of registered voters and an estimated 17 percent of all eligible voters bothered to vote on Election Day throughout Erie County.

Edward F. McKee

East Amherst