CLARENCE, NY-- The Clarence Industrial Development Agency has voted to approve an $85,000 tax break for a local car dealership.
Members of the Clarence IDA passed the proposal Thursday morning.
Towne Auto has already bought property across the street from it's existing BMW/Mini Cooper dealership on Main Street in Clarence, and says it will open up a new Mini Cooper dealership in the spring.
Towne says it will spend close to two million dollars on the expansion that will create 11 new jobs; nine will be in the new building, two in the existing dealership.
Towne says the addition of the new building should result in about 100 additional cars being sold next year, which would generate over $200,000 in sales taxes for the county.
Scott Brown: "The Downings are very successful, is there a reason that taxpayers should be subsidizing this new business?"
Dave Hartzell, Town Supervisor/IDA Chairman: "I think that's a great question, I'm glad you asked that. The IDA system in Erie County is absolutely in need of reform. I absolutely agree with (Assemblyman) Sean Ryan and Mark Poloncarz that we need to reform the system and I think a better example is the Rich family, they were just given a $318000 per job incentive.
Hartzell was referring to more than five million dollars that Rich Products received recently from the state and County IDA as part of an $18 million expansion at its headquarters on Niagara Street that will create 17 jobs.
Dave Hartzell: "I call on Mark Poloncarz to appoint a czar to reform all of the IDAs so we can talk about this corporate massive benevolence that's been going on."
Scott Brown: "Honestly, you would have done this project without this 85-thousand dollars wouldn't you?"
Frank Downing, Towne Auto Group: "We would definitely re-look at it, this wasn't a no brainier, we don't have to do this project. So this is really an incentive to help us do the project, so that's not true.
Scott Brown: "But at this point you've demolished two buildings, you have building plans approved by the town board, would you really have not done this if they turned you down today?"
Frank Downing: "Yeah we would have looked at it again and may not have done it. I probably would not have not have done it to tell the truth. We would have knocked down those buildings anyway, they were an eyesore. This is one of those projects where we'd be doing it for the future we don't need it for today so it would be another reason not to do it."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan has called these type of subsidies corporate welfare, and says Towne is going to expand whether it gets the tax break or not.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan: "Here's a trade-off that we sometimes need to keep our eye on- they're considering giving a subsidy of $85,000 for this car dealership to expand in Clarence. Clarence laid off 18 teachers' aides, so we're going to give $85,000 to a car dealership while we're laying off teachers' aides and reducing the quality of the education for our kids in Clarence - something's wrong with this scenario."