Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - State Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz joined together today to send a message to the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.
The Amherst IDA is set to meet Friday to discuss an application from the William Mattar Law Firm seeking tax breaks for a $4 million office renovation project. "The Amherst IDA should not even begin consideration for the special tax breaks for the William Mattar law firm," said Ryan.
Ryan and Poloncarz both say that regulations in place should immediately disqualify Mattar's firm from tax breaks. Eligibility guidelines in place for all IDAs in Erie County prohibit professional service firms like doctor's offices and law firms from receiving tax subsidies. The Mattar firm claims that because most of the work done in the new facility would be "back office" work, the project would be eligible for tax breaks.
"I don't want anybody to think we're against Mr. Mattar's expansion, because we are in favor of his expansion, we certainly want to see him expand, but that doesn't mean it should be subsidized by the people of this community" said Poloncarz.
Poloncarz said he had a phone conversation with Mattar, in which Mattar said that conversations with the Amherst IDA have led him to believe he qualifies.
Poloncarz and Ryan both say that the Amherst IDA in particular has been giving out tax subsidies to many retail establishments including liquor stores, pizzerias, and car dealerships, that do not benefit the economy and take tax dollars that could be spent in other places.
Ryan hopes to get the duties of suburban IDAs back under the thumb of local governments with elected officials. "No one from the Amherst School Board is going to pass a resolution saying, 'yes, take $500 out of our revenue stream, and give it to the Mattar Law Firm for more advertising.' But, right now it's set up that the IDAs operate as an authority like the Thruway Authority. There's very little public oversight, but there should be a lot more public oversight of our many IDAs in Erie County."