November 14, 2018. This article discusses the tax subsidies that Governor Cuomo and Bill de Blasio agreed to provide Amazon for moving one of their headquarters to Long Island City. This article highlights the subsidies which include $1.2 billion in “Excelsior tax credits” under New York’s Excelsior jobs program, $505 million in capital grants to repay Amazon for their construction costs, and the creation of a General Project Plan for the state to take control of the land which will not require Amazon to pay property taxes but Amazon will make payments in place of property taxes, known as PILOTs, equal to what the company would have owed in property taxes. The authors note that only half of these PILOTs, will go to the city’s general fund and the rest to an “Infrastructure Fund.” The agreement also included Amazon being required to pay $850,000 in rent, and the city, state and Amazon agreed to spend $5 million each on tech job training to ensure jobs are available to locals and Amazon will also receive a helipad.
“The wheelbarrow full of tax subsidies looks even worse than we thought,” says David Kallick, deputy director at the Fiscal Policy Institute. Amazon’s press release, he notes, cites all the right reasons for coming to Queens — good public amenities and public transit, a vibrant and diverse neighborhood, and an educated workforce. “So, why should the state be putting up $1.5 billion and counting to ‘lure’ Amazon to Long Island City? Why should there be any subsidies at all to get a company to come to one of the most desirable business locations in the country?”
In the end, New Yorkers will each have to come to their own decision about whether offering up this kind if cash to Amazon is a cost-effective investment in the city’s economic growth, or an outrageous giveaway to America’s richest dude. Not that your decision will matter much, since with the City Council sidelined and the entire project in the hands of Cuomo’s Empire State Development group, there will be few chances for voters or their representatives to weigh in on the deal. But it’s important for grumbling rights, and we know how dearly New Yorkers value those.
Here is the link to the Gothamist.