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DiNapoli: Tax exemptions jump while job gains slow for IDA projects


Mon, May 18th 2015 03:25 pm

New York's industrial development agencies provided $660 million in net tax exemptions in 2013, up $105 million from 2012, but estimated job gains were nearly 23,000 lower than the previous year, according to a report issued Monday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

This is DiNapoli's eighth annual report examining the performance of the state's IDAs and how these entities fulfill their mission to attract, retain and expand business within their communities.

"Although the amount of tax breaks IDAs provided to private companies noticeably increased, job gains did not keep pace," DiNapoli said. "IDAs can be an important catalyst for economic development in our state, but I urge local officials to improve their scrutiny over projects so that taxpayers know if their community is receiving promised jobs and economic benefits."

In 2013, the most recent full year of data available, IDA projects reported a total of 644,080 full-time jobs, which reflects an increase of 199,943 jobs over the life of these projects, at a median cost of $2,095 per job gained. In 2012, cumulative job gains equaled 222,645 with the median cost per job gained of $1,967.

DiNapoli's report found that, despite this weakening growth in jobs, the state's 109 active IDAs provided $1.38 billion in total tax exemptions in 2013. These exemptions were partially offset by $723 million in payments-in-lieu of taxes, leaving the total net exemptions for the year at $660 million - an increase of $105 million, or 19 percent, from 2012.

Municipal property taxes accounted for $258 million of total net tax exemptions while school property tax breaks accounted for $237 million. Other exemptions included state and local sales tax, county property taxes and mortgage recording taxes.

All but one of these agencies filed audited financial data with the state comptroller's office. Three fewer IDAs were operating in 2013 than in 2012. DiNapoli said this is the second consecutive year IDAs have improved their reporting.

Other findings include:

•The 4,709 projects supported by IDAs in 2013 were valued at $76.8 billion, an increase of 4.8 percent over 2012;

•The highest number of IDA-sponsored projects in 2013 was on Long Island (851);

•Regional data shows IDAs in the Mid-Hudson valley ($180.3 million), Long Island ($114.1 million) and the Capital District ($113.2 million) granted the highest amount of tax exemptions; and

•Operating expenses for IDAs in 2013 totaled $88.9 million, an average of $823,000 per agency. They ranged from $0 for IDAs in the cities of Port Jervis and Rensselaer to $13.6 million for the New York City IDA.

DiNapoli also renewed his call for improvements to IDA oversight and accountability.

While several recent audits have noted IDAs performing effectively and using best practices, there continue to be deficiencies related to approving and monitoring project performance. The comptroller is developing legislation that would support IDA economic development activities by requiring the use of standardized project applications, cost-benefit analysis, uniform project agreements and provisions for the recapture of benefits for certain nonperformance.

For a copy of the report, visit:

For comprehensive data showing project, financial and debt data for both IDAs and LDCs, visit:

For access to state and local government spending and more than 50,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The website was created by DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

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