AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Local Assemblyman Sean Ryan is calling for reforms for industrial development agencies. He says that many times, agencies are handing out tax breaks to keep jobs, only to have companies reverse course a short time later and lay off workers.
Ryan wants to pass the NY Jobs Act to change the rules and force companies to add jobs or lose their tax breaks.
When PHH Mortgage Company received $4.5 million in tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency in 2012, the plan was for them to add up to 400 jobs. Instead they cut 135 jobs but will keep their tax breaks.
“I won’t go as far as saying it’s a scam on the company’s part but I will come very close to saying it’s a scam on the part of the Amherst IDA because they don’t care if the companies keep their job quotas or not,” Ryan said.
The lawmaker cited PHH as just one example. Both Bank of America and Allstate received tax breaks and then cut jobs. Ryan said the Amherst IDA has nothing to lose when companies break their promises.
“They take a little from each deal, so if they told PHH no more tax subsidies that also means no more money going to the executive director of the Amherst IDA’s salary,” he said.
In September of last year the Amherst IDA released a report showing their benefit to the community. It quotes the latest New York State Authority Budget, where Amherst added 11,800 jobs, the fourth highest growth in the state. And it points to $17 million in property taxes generated for the town and county.
Amherst Town Council member Mark Manna said, “I’m sure the Amherst IDA has done well, but we can do better and in this tough economic times when people are struggling to make ends meet. To see millions of dollars going to corporations who aren’t keeping their promise to taxpayers, we can do better; Amherst taxpayers deserve better.”
News 4 made several calls to the Amherst IDA for comment on the layoffs at PHH and Ryan’s comments, however they have not been returned.