AUBURN | Potential changes for industrial development authorities in New York state could have an impact on the projects the Auburn Industrial Development Authority can take on.

Included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget is a restoration of a pre-2008 "retail prohibition," which prevented IDAs from giving tax breaks to retail projects.

Jennifer Haines, director of the city's office of planning and economic development and executive director of AIDA, said at AIDA's Monday meeting that projects like the Hilton Garden Inn and the Plaza of the Arts, both of which received payment in lieu of taxes agreements recently, would not be able to be assisted by AIDA under such legislation.

If included in the final state budget that is passed, which appears likely at this point, the prohibition of PILOTS and other tax abatement assistance would be effective immediately, Haines said.

"We won't be able to do retail projects anymore," she said.

Haines highlighted a few exceptions — cases in which IDAs could still offer assistance to retail projects. If a retail project is a tourism destination project, a project located in a highly distressed area or a project that would provide a product or service to the area that otherwise would not be available, it may still be considered for assistance.

The new provision would not allow IDAs to give PILOTS or other assistance to retail projects that would otherwise move out of state, according to an email from the New York State Economic Development Corp.

Also included in the budget proposal are requirements that IDAs do more sales tax reporting for the state on the projects they approve.

"That will be on us to get that information," Haines said.

In other news:

* Mack Studios, which was scheduled to present its PILOT application formally to AIDA, asked to postpone the presentation. Haines believed Peter Mack, the company's owner, was looking to make adjustments to his PILOT application, although she wasn't sure what he might want to change.

Mack Studios is looking to do a $1.7 million warehouse construction project, and initially submitted an application asking AIDA for a 20-year PILOT agreement that would save the company $657,552 in real property taxes over that period.

AIDA did approve a resolution to become the lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review the project will undergo prior to construction of a new building in Technology Park.

* The external auditor who looked at the financial statements of the Auburn Industrial Development Authority for the year ending Dec. 31, 2012 said the audit was clean.

"(AIDA) is very well run with no reportable conditions," said auditor Elaine Buffington.

Buffington presented her audit results and AIDA's financial statements at AIDA's Monday meeting.

Buffington also conducted staff interviews as part of the audit process to see if any staff members had concerns about opportunities for fraud. Only one concern arose — that of a desk that didn't lock and contained items that should be locked up.

Haines said the issue has been addressed.

"We took care of that," she said. "It does now lock."

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

(1) comment


Bingo! Finally someone had to bring some sanity back and of all places, it came from Albany! There are very good reasons why retail projects shouldn't get PILOTs and if our local IDA had taken the time to do a little research they would have realized that all those PILOTs do, is shift jobs and revevnue away from existing taxpaying businesses. How much business is being taken away from existing fully taxed hotels and restaurants? Unfortunately this legislation comes a bit too late and much damage has already been done to those fully taxed businesses and now they have few options. I would also like to see legislation that forces IDAs to make public, the identities of all shareholders in those projects. People have a right to know just who they give millions to.

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