Orange County lawmakers push to change how tax breaks are decided

More than two dozen officials in Orange County wrote a letter to their Industrial Development Agency Tuesday, asking them to change their current policy when deciding on tax breaks for new businesses.

Blaise Gomez

Sep 7, 2022, 4:18 PM

Updated 589 days ago

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More than two dozen officials in Orange County wrote a letter to their Industrial Development Agency Tuesday, asking them to change their current policy when deciding on tax breaks for new businesses. 
The IDA board currently votes on tax reductions for new businesses without any input from a municipality or school district where a building will be built. 
Sen. James Skoufis’s office released the letter. 
Skoufis says Orange County should adopt a similar policy as Rockland County – where the IDA votes on a maximum tax break and then the local government ultimately decides. 
“The IDA board, and this is my characterization, can just shove these tax breaks down people’s throats and people may not want them in their community, in their backyard,” said Sen. Skoufis. “The IDA board doesn’t have to deal with the budget ramifications from the villages, towns and school districts. They just get to vote on the these and go back home.” 
Orange County IDA Chief Executive Officer Bill Fiovaranti says the board follows New York state laws when it comes to their policy and said the letter is a “political move that ignores facts.” 
Justin Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, tells News 12 that Neuhaus has fought for IDA reform for years.
“The county executive has always been fighting for IDA reform dating back to when he was Chester town supervisor, but that sole responsibility is in the hands of the state Legislature and to a lesser degree the County Legislature,” said Rodriguez. “IDA reform should come in the form of something that is in the best interest for the taxpayers as well as economic development.”
Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone reached out to News 12, saying he did not authorize his name to be used on the letter. 
“I’ve already heard from multiple local officials who say their names were signed to this letter without their approval,” said Fiovaranti. 
News 12 reached out to Sen. Skoufis for additional information about the letter. 
“My office, Goshen town supervisor Joe Betro, and Sen. Mike Martucci split reaching out to supervisors and mayors since there are so many. Cardone was on Betro’s list.”
Betro responded to the controversy about the letter and said, “I had a conversation with supervisor Cardone. We spoke about municipal cooperation between the IDA and the towns. I was under the impression that he was in agreement. To be clear, this letter should be use as a tool to engage conversation with the IDA about applications that are reviewing. I don’t believe anyone is interested in veto power over the IDA. At least I am not, however it is being looked at politically.”


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