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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