Buffalo, N.Y. - Despite objections from County Executive Poloncarz saying it was a waste of taxpayers' money, Uniland Development has received $5 million in tax breaks to build a new $46 million headquarters for Catholic Health on a vacant piece of land on Genesee Street in downtown Buffalo.
Under the plan, Catholic Health would consolidate its operations at the new building and create a job training center. It says the move will bring 600 jobs downtown and that it will create new 50 jobs as part of the project.
Although the request for the tax breaks had been in the pipeline for a while, Uniland and Catholic Health already held a ground breaking ceremony for the project, and that fact left Erie County legislator Tom Loughran to question whether Uniland really needed the money to go forward.
"This is a great project and I want to see it built, but it seems like we're giving the store away after that fact," said Loughran.
But Mayor Brown said he didn't believe the project would happen without the tax breaks, and that the project is important for downtown.
"Having all of those new employees supporting the growth of downtown, extending the footprint of the medical campus and training literally thousands of residents to go into health care and life sciences jobs in Buffalo and Western New York," Brown said in explaining the benefits of the project.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been a critic of town Industrial Development Agencies that give tax breaks to lure a business from one town to another, or that give businesses like car dealerships tax incentives to create a handful of jobs.
Poloncarz was the only 'no' vote at Monday's ECIDA meeting.
"What we want to ensure is that if we're providing tax incentives to any entity, that they're truly providing real economic development new jobs, and that we're not just moving jobs from across the county to a different location," said Poloncarz.