Economic-development agencies run by local governments doled out $1.5 billion in tax breaks to 4,486 projects in 2011, an increase of 16 percent in net exemptions since 2010, the state Comptroller’s Office said today.
The Industrial Development Agencies, the local job-creation programs run in counties, supported nearly 4,500 projects and provided $560 million in net tax exemptions in 2011. The number of job gains through the agencies grew by nearly 36,000, up nearly 20 percent since 2010, the report said.
The report found that the often-overlooked IDAs gave out tax breaks to some projects where few if any jobs were created. And the number of breaks to retail projects – which often provide low salaries to workers – has steadily increased.
For example, Monroe County had the largest active tax break – for the Medley Centre mall project – while the Hudson Valley had among the highest breaks per capita.
For the Medley project, a foundering rehabilitation of the former Irondequoit Mall, no jobs have been created, despite $1.5 million in tax breaks, the report said.
“At a time when many counties, cities and towns are facing serious fiscal challenges and stagnant economies, the need for IDA projects to generate jobs for New Yorkers and expand the local tax base is especially urgent,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement.
IDAs have been criticized for lack oversight as they dole out big breaks to businesses in the hope of job creation.
Last month, the state’s Authorities Budget Office said in a report that the IDAs gave out $5.6 billion in tax breaks to local projects between 2008 and 2011. The exemptions increased by 50 percent between 2010 and 2011, the report said.