Who’s Your Daddy or Who Runs Broome County?Posted: August 5, 2012
by Dave Duncan
Binghamton’s City Council and Mayor have agreed to give 2 Court St a 50% tax break for the next 15 years. The building has been put under the umbrella of the Broome County Industrial Development Agency, an organization that over the past 40 years has doled out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to large corporations and developers in Broome County. The Binghamton Board of Education is also being asked to approve this sleight of hand which will directly affect the amount of money available for educational purposes.
Does the IDA Run the Whole Show?
For forty years the Broome County Industrial Development Agency has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to large corporations and developers. The tax breaks have come at the expense of our county, city and school. These “gifts” have come in the form of property and sales tax reductions and the elimination of mortgage recording fees. Banks benefit from selling bonds, the wealthy benefit from buying the tax exempt bonds and the developers benefit from having to pay less than their share of property taxes. The overwhelming majority of residents lose by having to make up the difference, by having to pay more taxes and by getting reduced services.
BCIDA–No Record of Job Development
The New York State Comptroller says his analysis shows no connection between the tax breaks provided by the IDAs and the effect on state jobs. The BCIDA has publically based its existence on the fact that it creates jobs, but over forty years it has never bothered to keep track of the supposed jobs created.
Illegality Does Not Matter
NYS has also cited as illegal the status of the BCIDA Board Chairman, George Akel, who remains Chairperson even though the BCIDA voted to give tax break status to a project that he has a financial interest in developing.
Who Looks Out for the Peoples’ Interest?
The above facts are known to the elected officials of the state, county, cities, towns and school boards but they ignore them. Why? It can only be assumed that these representatives of the people answer to a higher power, i.e., the banks, wealthy investors and developers. The BCIDA Board of Directors has numerous members that are also members of the Broome County Legislature and the office of the Broome County Executive.
Party Makes No Difference
In the end, the interests of the IDA and the wealthy it represents takes top billing over the interests of the people regardless of political party. Elected Democrats and Republicans vote to support the
BCIDA projects. There is no quibbling here. The most recent vote on the hand-out for the 2 Court St developers was unanimously approved by the Binghamton City Council and the Mayor.
Speak to Your Elected Officials…
If you are tired of:
being forced to pay more taxes because the rich developers don’t pair their share,
being told as a public employee that in order to keep your job you must give back more in pay and benefits,
seeing your elected officials with tongues the same color as the boots of the developer then take some action! Contact those who are pretending to represent you. When you are fed the line that during these tough times, we are all riding down the road together, remember that the bankers and developers are in the saddle and the rest of us are under it!
Remember—don’t call the Press & Sun-Bulletin about this situation, they’re not only one of the powers in the saddle, they ’re wearing the spurs.
2 Court Street-One Long History of Taxpayer Subsidy
Fifty years ago the area now occupied by 2 Court St was occupied by small businesses. The City of Binghamton’s Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) decided that these small businesses, along with almost 400 more were not worthy of being part of Downtown. The bankers and developers, with assistance from the Press, decided to use public money to tear down these small businesses and erect the City of the Future. Supported by both Democrats and Republicans, the old buildings, many going back to the 1870’s and 1888’s, had to go.
The First City National Bank, situated at the corner of Court and Washington Streets, wanted a new location. They did not want to pay to tear down their property in order to rebuild and they did not want to be stuck with their old building. With developers firmly in control of the Urban Renewal process the people from First City had BURA purchase the buildings that lined one block of land along the East Side of the Chenango River and then sell the property to the bank, on the cheap. Then, after constructing a new building, they had BURA buy up their old building. Taxpayers and small business lost coming and going. Beside the developers, the only ones who praised this process were the elected officials of Binghamton and the major political propaganda organ of the developers and bankers, the Binghamton Press. What a glorious downtown Binghamton would have they told us! To add to this glorious spectacle taxpayers footed the bill to add a walkway between the new bank and the Chenango River.
It was not many years before the bank decided that they did not need all of this space and began to rent out the extra footage to other downtown businesses that wanted to relocate. Now a new request has been approved by City Hall and the Binghamton Council to subsidize taxes for the new developers of the bank building.
Binghamton’s elected officials, of both major parties, never met a developer whose coattails didn’t look like it had mistletoe attached. Then and now, it makes no difference