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Ecida Fails to Understand the Concept of "No"


Mission creep.

Market rate housing, senior or otherwise, with IDA tax abatements is mission creep.

Nonetheless, the ECIDA has a new loophole laden policy on market rate senior housing guaranteed not to filter out one single project. The News called it a half step. I might call it a side step and if grading it would give the policy an A for creative writing and obfuscation and an F for public policy.

IDAs exist as public benefit corporations to undertake economic development for the benefit of the sponsoring municipality and its “inhabitants” as provided in law. Economic development is different than community development and is meant to create jobs and increase wealth in the community. That is the mission of IDAs. To induce or provide incentives to employers to create jobs and expand the economic pie. Housing projects, even large ones (100+ units) are not job engines and might at best create one full time job. A look at the pending projects on the ECIDA website will prove this to be correct.

In response to critics, local IDAs funded a study of market rate senior housing, undertaken by UB, to identify if IDAs should continue to approve incentives to senior projects. Good move. Implicit in commissioning a study is the consideration of its conclusions in defining future actions. However, the study refuted the funding premise cited in past approval of these projects and concluded there was no economic justification for continuance. Even the first ECIDA policy draft called for the elimination of assistance. But, multiple iterations and a year later, the policy calls for the furtherance of tax gifts via a new loophole of optional evaluation criteria, contrary to the plain language of the study just purchased, inconsistent with the mission of IDAs and seemingly in violation of the statute itself.

IDAs have been criticized for wanton gifting of tax revenue to any project that applies. And as opposed to changing behavior, they have apparently chosen the tactic that the best defense is a good offense. Well, mission accomplished. This policy is offensive.

Now is the time for the community including elected officials, taxpayers and school districts to take action to end the public largess gifted to developers on an entitlement basis for projects lacking public benefit.

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