Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Democrats Propose New Economic Development Tool, Targeting Tax Breaks

Joe RittlerComment

Rochester, New York — September 11, 2014.  Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature have proposed legislation to appoint a broadly representative local Board to determine if certain business property tax exemptions should be more targeted based on location and industry. Other local governments such as the Town of Greece have done so for town tax purposes.  

“We must do everything within our power to ensure that there is efficient implementation of these tax exemptions”, Democratic Legislator Paul Haney (D-Rochester, Brighton) said. “The Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board could make recommendations to the County Legislature to target these tax breaks in a way that ensures homeowners are not, in some cases, pointlessly subsidizing corporate tax breaks.”

These currently unmonitored Section 435b tax exemptions cost the County of Monroe over $766,000 in annual lost revenue—which is paid for by all other County property taxpayers. Fortunately, there are provisions in State law that would allow Monroe County to establish an Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board. In accordance with Section 485-b of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, this board would issue an annual plan to the County Legislature recommending changes to these exemptions based on need and geographic location. This advisory board may recommend to the County Legislature that it effectively target areas and businesses that would most benefit from property tax exemptions, and in turn provide the greatest economic benefit to our area. Or, it may recommend leaving the system as it is.

“We should use this simple economic development tool to help target the way certain corporate tax breaks are awarded,” Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews (D-Rochester) said. “Tax breaks have their place, but we must remember that with every break given, the share paid by everyone else increases. Using this board as a tool, we can make sure all taxpayers are getting the best return on their investment.”