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It's Your Money: Taxes breaks for companies who relocate

Posted at: 02/22/2013 8:06 PM
By: Ray Levato

How would you like to get a "tax break" every time you and your family moved? A number of business owners are getting those breaks when they move their businesses, whether it is to another county or just across town.

Governor Cuomo says he's tired of it and ready to make changes because ultimately it's costing all of us more in taxes.

Governor Cuomo says giving tax breaks to a company just so it can move across town is a waste of taxpayer money and his new budget would put a stop to it.

This is what the governor said Thursday about industrial development agencies during his appearance in Rochester.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “Part of what we've been doing is we subsidize the same business and we just move the same business from county to county, or district to district, or from one side of the street to the other side of the street.”

Just this week, COMIDA, The County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency, handed out a bunch of tax breaks. One was a $12,000 sales tax exemption to a company called Pharma-Smart International. Pharma-Smart is a manufacturer of blood pressure screening equipment. According to COMIDA, it has outgrown its existing location at 3495 Winton Place in Brighton. The company wants to relocate to the Rochester Tech Park in the town of Gates with the promise to spend $145,000 to equip the new location and create 2 new full-time jobs.

Judy Seil, COMIDA Director, said, “I don't think we're asking taxpayers to bear a burden. These companies are making an investment.”

COMIDA Director Judy Seil says the community is getting a 5 to 1 benefit for the incentives offered to companies.

Seil said, “What they're paying in sales tax. What they're paying in property tax.What those people are spending in our community versus the incentives. So we're getting five times as much as we're offering.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “But if that's the case, why is Gov. Cuomo saying it's a boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money?”

Seil said, “I don't agree with what the governor is saying.”

 But in this one case, the town of Gates' gain is Brighton's loss.

Ray Tierney, former Brighton councilman, said, “The taxpayer suffers.”

Ray tierney is a former Brighton councilman and longtime critic of these tax breaks.

Tierney said, “It's about somebody building a new building or adding onto a building where the taxes are being abated as an incentive to do that, when you do that, every dollar that you abate, that dollar has to be raised to fund the services that development will demand, it has to come from the average taxpayer in that community.”

Cuomo said, “I'm not interested in using tax dollars to move the same job around town. Or move the same job from town to town. And that's what we want to stop. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars. It doesn't create any jobs. It doesn't create any economic growth. It's just a boondoggle.”

Also this week in Irondequoit, a developer got a big tax break to move a tops supermarket from one East Ridge Road location to another. The town supports it and the supervisor says there are extenuating factors including the lease was up on the current tops location.

The governor's new project would require local projects involving state sales tax exemptions to get the approval of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. And in cases where a project isn't meeting the requirements to have the company pay back any state sales tax benefit.

Tierney says he'd like to see more representation on that council from local officials and taxpayers.