We may never agree on this but lets take a look at just what you say. The small investment you refer to is Midtown town and it comes with $8.7 million of city money and $6 million of state money. There is the Sibley building which we have already give $1 million to build a police station, and a $3.1 million loan. They are also seeking long term tax breaks and millions more in loans/ grants to rehab this building. No study shows the need for a new downtown hotel and presently we have a surplus of rooms so the Hilton does not make economic sense and the Inner loop fill is is $7 million more of our money with $17.7 million from the federal government. When this is completed what will we have 300 or so more apartments downtown, 14 acres of shovel ready space no one is wants, 2.5 million square feet of vacant commercial space and we will be more than $41 million poorer. Will poverty be decreased? Will the many underemployed have better careers? Will crime be lower? Downtown will look nicer but will it be better? If you think there will be taxes out of this I ask you to look at 454 Westfall Rd an apartment complex which is worth $4.1 million and yet pays $1268 in taxes even though this building was built in 1972. It seems these tax breaks never expire as in 20 years these projects will need something done which will justify extending the tax breaks. My problem is I look at this as an investment and I see neither a monetary return nor a public benefit return so I see no reason to spend this money trying to recreate a downtown which is gone.
Frank your right climate change is a real problem for the future and that is why, as you know, I have included the following items in my platform:
· Include renewable energy systems in the building modernization plan for Schools – This will help save the City School District money through reduced energy costs. It will also decrease the carbon footprint of the city and help keep our air healthy and clean.
· Switch the city’s fleet of vehicle to renewable energy – The increase in both popularity and effectiveness of alternative energy vehicles has made it practical to save the city money and keep our environment clean through the use of electric vehicles. In conjunction with a public utility and renewable energy at the schools, this will greatly reduce the operation costs of our fleet.
· Provide a property tax credit for installation of clean renewable energy systems.
· Push for home pick up of electronics at least monthly.
· Explore energy generation through wind turbines at Durand Eastman Park, low flow turbines on the Genesee River, energy transference walk ways, and solar panels on city buildings.
· Make tree lined streets a priority – Whenever the city removes a tree they need to replace it and make trees a mandatory part of all street redevelopments projects.
As well as have had a press conference about bicycling and talked about light rail.
Ideas like this will greatly reduce our carbon footprint, prepare our city for a changing future, and reduce costs for everyone.
Thanks for bringing this up again.
Like many I was excited to hear increased finding for recreation and youth services as this has been shown to reduce crime, increase school results, and build neighborhoods. Unfortunately the budget decreases funding for the department not increases it as reported. On page 61 of the 2013-2014 budget it clearly shows
2012-13 2013-14 Variance Percent
Recreation & Youth Services 11,416,100 11,114,600 -301,500 -2.6
Which is s decrease in funding for recreation. Meanwhile registration and use are both up 15%! Spray park attendance, beach attendance, and pool use are all up. The need for services like summer food, after school academy, and pregnancy services to youths are not decreasing.
Over the past 7 years the department has been trimmed dramatically. There has been closure of programs, cuts in staff at the remaining programs and reduction is services provided. This year seems more the same and cuts to recreation and youth services will never be part of a plan to improve our city.
All this building would be fine if it was being done with private money. The problem is that the city is offering a diverse package of loans, grants, land give-aways, and tax breaks.For example, Voters Block is getting the land for free, $1.3 million in cash, and a tax rate at roughly a fifth of what other rental properties in the area are paying. Furthermore, many of these loans are really grants and many others are forgiven after a period of time. Let us not forget the city often does infrastructure improvement around these projects for millions more, such as the river promenade behind Erie Harbor. The result is that the city does not recoup the money they give to get these developers to build in any reasonable time period, say twenty or even fifty years! Meanwhile these neighborhoods the city calls "less than desirable" fund this development. While money is easy for these projects to obtain, it is next to impossible for people in these "less than desirable” neighborhoods to get money for repair. The worst thing is that at one time the city money was used for neighborhood improvement loans, which prevented the blight that is now destroying our neighborhoods and every elected official in the city of Rochester has approved these subsidies to large developments.
When did we agree it is okay for non elected officials to raise our taxes. that is what IDA's are doing. By giving tax exemptions to a few they are actually costing everyone else more. To continue to allow this to happen for some residential and retail projects is a travesty. The majority of the tax benefits given are landlords and they are not even creating permanent jobs! This actually is depressing investment, as rents are kept low and other small investors can not justify the investment.. But do not take my word for this there was a study by Metro Justice of COMIDA and this is what they found
• 63% (124 out of 196) of COMIDA projects hadn't delivered the jobs that the businesses promised.
• Of the 196 projects with sufficient reporting data, 27% lost jobs (54 out of 196), reporting fewer current jobs than the employment level before IDA status was granted. An additional 5 projects had no change in employment. (It should be noted that COMIDA is not required to report how many projects had not "ripened," meaning that there still could be time left to create the jobs. Once again, this points to the need for better reporting requirements).
• Only 52% of the projects that added jobs (72 out of 137) met or exceeded their job creation targets.
While the Governors suggestions were good they actually did not go far enough an the whole system need to be revamped so that actual creation of jobs through business start ups is the goal. Until then we continue to make us poorer so a few can legally defraud State and local governments of tax revenue.
The job number seems to be wrong. Many of the office jobs will be transfers from the UR or Strong Hospital, and Barnes and Noble presently has a store at the hospital and another at the college which will both move to their new store. It also seems that dropping over 110,000 square feet of retail in this area might adversely affect existing businesses in the area. It seems much more reasonable that the net job gain will be closer to 100 than 500.
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