Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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April 28th, 2016

IDA needs to Explain Itself

There has been an uproar during the past several weeks over the Sullivan County’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) granting a tax abatement to Empire Resorts for the redevelopment of the former Concord Monster Golf Course.

In actuality this tax abatement is nothing new – it is basically a transfer from one corporation into another of an already approved tax abatement.

While Empire Resorts and its partners are going to pay taxes on property not granted tax abatements, many are upset that tax abatements were bestowed on a casino project that is considered the “Mother Lode” in the first place.

Empire Resorts which is a public company says a casino license would not have been awarded to Sullivan County if it weren’t for the IDA and all they did to assist them.

IDA’s throughout New York State have received enormous criticism in the way they conduct business. Sullivan County’s IDA is in actuality amongst the cream of the crop when compared with others.

Although an Independent Agency, our IDA is comprised of voluntary members appointed by the Sullivan County Legislature. Legislator Ira Steingart is its chair.

Last week legislator Joseph Perrello was also appointed to the IDA when a seat opened up. This marks the first time two Sullivan County Legislators are sitting on the IDA Board.

Perrello’s appointment is exciting news for Sullivan County.

In just four short months on the legislature – Perrello has proven to be an outspoken voice for fiscal responsibility and accountability.

A well respected businessman known for his street brand of politics, Perrello will most certainly represent the interests of Sullivan County taxpayers and the business community on the IDA.

One of the reasons people get upset when they read about tax abatements awarded by the IDA is because many people do not understand the role an IDA has in a community.

It would do a great service for the public at large if the IDA once and for all held a public forum with Sullivan County residents to discuss their role in economic development. Concerns taxpayers need answers and explanations once and for all.

The disdain from some over a casino developer seeking tax abatements is just the icing on the cake, and it goes much further than that.

People are upset that the IDA awards companies tax abatements that do little to help our economy or do not meet their obligations. They feel that the IDA participates in favoritism benefiting only a select few who know how to work the system.

People are furious that when a new business comes along we are eager to award millions in tax abatements and other incentives, but we do very little to retain or assist those businesses that are here and are struggling.

Has anyone investigated or analyzed if awarding tax abatements really helps our economy?

A big part of the IDA, Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, and Planning Department of Sullivan County should be to assist local businesses and do everything they can to help these established businesses. They should visit each and every business and ask one simple question – What can we do to help you?

Getting back to my original premise that the IDA needs explain to itself to the public. Most people are unaware that IDAs are public benefit corporations authorized by the Industrial Development Agency Act of 1969 and governed by the provisions of Article 18-A of the General Municipal Law. Sullivan County has several non-active IDAs.

The purpose of an IDA is to promote, develop, encourage and assist in acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining or equipping certain facilities, thereby advancing the job opportunities, health, general prosperity and the economic welfare of the people.

IDAs have enormous power in granting tax abatements and bonding. While mission statements and laws adhered to by IDAs have not changed, interpretation has.

A public forum of explanation and education of the IDA will go a long way in bringing people together and perhaps the results will entail everyone being on the same page.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

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