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Job gains slow for IDA-supported projects

ALBANY - New York’s Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) supported more than 4,500 projects and provided $554 million in net tax exemptions in 2012, but estimated job gains were 2,400 lower than the previous year, according to a report issued by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. This is DiNapoli's seventh annual report examining the performance of the state's IDAs.

“In many parts of New York, IDA projects provide a much-needed boost to local economic development efforts,” said DiNapoli. “However, I continue to stress the need for more accountability and disclosure to ensure taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. Accurate reporting is vital for determining whether job creation goals are reaching their benchmarks and this report shows improvements need to be made. New Yorkers should not be left to doubt the effectiveness of providing businesses with tax breaks and other benefits.”

DiNapoli’s report found the state’s 112 active IDAs provided $1.3 billion in total tax exemptions in 2012.

Local property taxes accounted for $552 million of total IDA tax exemptions while school property tax breaks accounted for $461 million. Other exemptions included state and local sales tax, county property taxes and mortgage recording taxes.

The exemptions were partially offset by $766 million in payments-in-lieu of taxes, leaving the total net exemptions for the year at $554 million – an increase of $47 million, or 9.3 percent, from 2011.  

In 2012, IDA projects reported a total of 674,178 full-time jobs, which reflects an increase of 214,102 jobs over the life of these projects, at an average cost of $2,588 per job gained. In 2011, cumulative job gains equaled 216,519 with an average cost per job of $2,342.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Regional data shows that IDAs on Long Island ($118 million) and in the Capital District ($93.7 million) and the Mid-Hudson valley ($89.9 million) granted the highest amount of tax exemptions;
  • The highest number of IDA-sponsored projects in 2012 were in Western New York (837);
  • Operating expenses for IDAs in 2012 totaled $68 million, an average of $636,000 per IDA; 
  • Of the 112 IDAs operating in New York, 107 filed required reports with the State Comptroller’s office. The only IDAs that did not file were: Town of Corinth, City of Mechanicville/ Town of Stillwater, Montgomery County, City of Port Jervis and Town of Waterford.

DiNapoli has also renewed his call for improvements to IDA oversight and accountability. The Comptroller has submitted legislative proposals that would:

  • Improve accuracy of jobs data by requiring project agreements to contain provisions that compel accurate disclosure of employment information;
  • Improve transparency of IDA operations by requiring IDAs to publish an annual report card with detailed information on individual projects;
  • Require IDAs to utilize uniform applications for projects and adopt objective project evaluation and selection criteria; 
  • Include local ‘clawback’ provisions if project goals are not met.

For a copy of the report, visit: www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/ida_reports/2014/idaperformance.pdf