Report: Finger Lakes IDAs approved $60.4 million in tax exemptions in 2018

In 2018, New York’s Finger Lakes industrial development agencies approved $60.4 million in tax exemptions to projects valued at $8.1 billion, a new report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows.

The 2020 annual “Performance of Industrial Development Agencies in New York State” shows that the 109 active IDAs across New York in 2018 approved incentives for nearly 4,300 projects with a total project value of $106 billion, an increase of $7.4 billion from 2017. Manufacturing projects accounted for 1,118, or 26 percent, of all active projects.

Analysis of 2018 IDA Data by Region Source: Office of the State Comptroller
Analysis of 2018 IDA Data by Region
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

Some 61 percent of projects were located in Upstate New York regions and accounted for 41 percent of the total value of all projects. In 2018, project operators reported a job creation expectation of 229,257, as well as 280,932 jobs retained across the state. The median salary of jobs to be created was estimated at $38,570.

Two-thirds of all projects resulted in net job gains. All IDA projects collectively produced a net total of 179,057 jobs gained in 2018. Forty percent of those job gains were in Upstate New York, according to the report. In the Finger Lakes region, some 3,600 net jobs were gained in 2018.

In 2018, total IDA revenues were $96.3 million, while total expenditures were $98.7 million. The Finger Lakes region IDAs spent $13.6 million on 727 projects.

In the six-county Rochester metro area, the following IDAs approved projects in 2018:
• Genesee County — 74 projects, $625.9 million project value
• Livingston County — 32 projects, $335.7 million value
• Monroe County — 396 projects, $4.486 billion value
• Ontario County — 57 projects, $482.7 million value
• Orleans County — 23 projects, $264.7 million value
• Wayne County — 42 projects, $227.6 million value
• Village of Fairport — 6 projects, $26.9 million value

“Projects that come from Industrial Development Agencies continue to produce jobs across the state, but in the past couple of years the pace has slowed,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “As our local economies build back from the shock of the pandemic, IDAs may have a critical role in helping businesses and communities get back on their feet, with careful review of the tax breaks they offer and the impact on local government budgets.”

The 1969 enactment of the Industrial Development Agency Act allowed for the creation of IDAs by special act of the Legislature, with the goal of encouraging economic development and job opportunities. The legislation did not include any express financial reporting requirements until 1989, when legislation was enacted that required IDAs to submit to the Office of the State Comptroller audited annual financial statements that include information on bonds, notes and the dollar amount of tax exemptions for each project.

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State offers tax breaks and money for energy technology to farmers

New York farmers are eligible for two Christmas presents from the state: money for clean energy technologies and a 10-year extension of a tax waiver for farm buildings.

New York State Energy and Research Development Authority announced on Tuesday that $19 million is being made available to help accelerate the use of anaerobic digesters on farms. The digesters siphon methane gas off manure and other farm wastes and use it to run turbines that make electricity.

Currently, according to NYSERDA, there are 23 such digesters licensed to operate on New York farms and seven more under construction. Meanwhile, there are thousands of farms. The fund for clean energy makes nearly $8 million available for new digesters, $8 million for upgrading those installed before 2015, and $3 million for other technologies that conserve energy use on farms.

“Governor Cuomo’s emphasis on providing funding to help bridge the gap between the agricultural sector and energy efficiency will help farms across the state reduce their energy usage while continuing to provide environmental benefits for their local communities,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA.

Information on how to apply for digester funds is available on the NYSERDA website.

Also earlier in the week, Cuomo announced that the state is renewing a property tax exemption that applies to new buildings necessary for agricultural production, such as temporary greenhouses, dairy barns, and arenas for exercising horses. The existing law was due to expire Jan. 1, 2019.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said the measure “extends a crucial tax break to our farmers and growers, who have historically relied on the exemption to improve operations, expand businesses and offset other expenses.”

State officials estimated the exemption has saved farmers a total of $112.8 million. Information on the program is available online from the state tax department.

David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau, applauded the extension, saying “The tax savings is especially important in today’s tough agricultural economy.”

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