Now that the State Budget is in place, there are new changes to the way County industrial Developement Agencies issue tax breaks. YNN's Rose Eiklor explains why some people in Genesee County are questioning how those tax breaks are handed out.
The building in Batavia has been vacant for a little more than a year. The owner of the property, COR Development, received tax breaks from the Genesee County Industrial Development Agency as incentives to bring in a Lowe's store in 2007. Lowe's has since closed.
Now COR Development is seeking new tax breaks for future development at the site.
That will require following new state guidelines.
"Essentially what the governor and the legislature decided to do was to reimpose the pre-2008 retail restriction. It's a prohibition on IDAs from financing retail projects. However, within that prohibition, there are three exemptions. One is for tourism destination projects. Another is for projects that are in distressed areas. Another is for projects that would provide a product or service that is not readily available in the area," said Brian McMahon, NY State Economic Development Corp.
The Industrial Development Agency approved COR's application and tax breaks for the new unidentified tenant, pending the outcome of a public hearing.
Some community residents say developers shouldn't be allowed to receive tax breaks twice for the same location. Jim Rosenbeck from the Genesee County Libertarian Party says the party has started an online petition to challenge the county's decision.
"The answer to bring business to Genesee County is not offering tax breaks. If a company business plan involves being subsidized by the government, there is a bigger problem here," said Rosenbeck.
Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the Genesee County Legislature, says the site is a tourist destination.
Hancock said, "It appeals to people coming from 50 miles or more. It is right off the Thruway. The idea is to build around other tourist destinations and some other activities that can round out the experience so yes it is a tourist destination. In addition, it offers products and opportunities that are not easily available in this immediate area."
"They not be put in the position of looking at this parking lot and saying this is Genesee County's Disney World; it really isn't. And I don't believe we really got any payback for the tax benefits that the developer got when Lowe's came in here," said Rosenbeck.
More than 60 people had signed the petition since it was posted Thursday. The Libertarian Party plans to submit the petition at an IDA public hearing, which hasn't been scheduled yet.
No one from COR Development was available for comment.