No request for tax relief for the Amazon project yet

A Niagara County IDA official said the online retail giant has not formally requested assistance for a $300 million warehouse project in the city of Niagara.

Online retail giant Amazon has requested no tax relief for a $300 million warehouse project in Niagara County.

At least not yet, anyway.

Niagara County Industrial Development Agency attorney Mark Gabriele said this week that the company has yet to submit a tax relief application for a five-story distribution center it has proposed. for a site on Lockport Road in the City of Niagara, just outside of Niagara Falls. .

Today is the deadline to submit items for consideration for the next regular meeting of the NCIDA Board of Directors, scheduled for Wednesday. The council is not due to meet again until May 11.

Amazon plans presented for its proposed “first mile” distribution center to the Niagara County Planning Board earlier this month. During the meeting, an Amazon representative said the center would create at least 1,000 full-time jobs, offering an average wage of $18 per hour, plus benefits.

the The Niagara Gazette reported that the town planning council agreed on Tuesday to submit a preliminary site plan and a request for exemptions for the project.

Amazon had a similar plane for a 145-acre parcel on Long Road in the city of Grand Island two years ago. The company finally abandoned the proposal amid residents’ concerns about the potential impact of traffic on local roads and bridges on Grand Island.

The project also faced opposition from critics who questioned the cost of the subsidies Amazon was asking for at the time.

Despite being one of the richest companies in the world, Amazon has long used public resources to fund its projects.

Search made by Good jobs firsta nonprofit that tracks local and state economic development grants, shows that Amazon has received about 20 incentive packages a year for warehouses, fulfillment centers and other projects since 2012. The organization says state and local grants for Amazon projects have now surpassed $4 billionand cash.

In New York state, local industrial development agencies have given $400 million in grants to Amazon over the past eight years, according to Good Jobs First.

For the Grand Island project, the Amazon developer negotiated a 15-year payment-in-lieu-taxes agreement with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

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Although the terms of PILOT have been kept secret due to a non-disclosure agreement related to the project, developer analysis estimated Amazon would have made reduced property tax payments totaling $93 million over the 15-year deal. The payments included $41.1 million to the city, $34.4 million to the Grand Island School District, and $17.4 million to Erie County.

Without Amazon’s fulfillment center, the project developer estimated that property taxes paid at the site over the same 15-year period would have been $393,272.

Amazon also reportedly considered giving the city a added $10 million incentive package this would have covered the construction of a new community center, a bike path and other local infrastructure improvements.

Pat GarofaloDirector of State and Local Policy of the American Project on Economic Freedomsa non-profit organization that champions corporate accountability, argued in his own analysis of the project that Amazon would still have done fairly well under the deal, which included an 85% reduction in property tax in the first year.

“In year two, it would have been reduced by 80%, with incremental increases until finally, in year 16, Amazon paid full freight,” Garofalo wrote. “Because of those big discounts in the first few years, I’d bet Amazon’s savings on the PILOT would have exceeded the $10 million offered to the (city).”

State Senator Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, has sponsored legislation which would prohibit the use of funds, financial incentives, or subsidies “where facilities or properties are used primarily for the storage or transfer of e-commerce.”

In March, he joined other state lawmakers in calling for a ban on public subsidies for Amazon and other e-commerce and logistics facilities, arguing that these subsidies force residents to bear the burden of property tax for wealthy businesses that can afford to build their own projects without public assistance.

“New York City taxpayers shouldn’t bear the burden of subsidizing massively profitable companies like Amazon — especially not when those subsidies buy us low-wage jobs,” Ryan said.

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