State IDA Project Value Increased 10% in 2021
Total Tax Exemptions Rise to Nearly $1.9B
By JOHN JORDAN – April 18, 2023
ALBANY—As some critics of Industrial Development Agencies continue to call for additional oversight over their decisions and tax breaks granted to developers, a report released on April 11 indicates that a total of 107 local and county Industrial Development Agencies in New York State added $126 billion to the New York State economy in 2021.
The report issued by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli indicated the total value of projects approved by IDA for incentives in 2021 grew by 10.4%, or $11.9 billion over the previous year. The total number of IDA projects increased by 1.5%. Meanwhile total tax exemptions granted to developers by the IDAs in New York State grew by nearly 8%.
New York State Sen. James Skoufis (D-SD42) of Cornwall has been a vocal critic of IDAs statewide and specifically the Orange County IDA. He included a provision in the pending budget bill from the Senate to require a monitor to oversee the county’s IDA operations.
“IDAs can play an important role in helping local economies and businesses expand,” Comptroller DiNapoli said. “This report provides taxpayers with a look at the financial and project data reported by local IDAs so they can track their activities. The tax breaks IDAs provide can impact local taxes, so it’s important to ensure these projects are creating or retaining the jobs and economic benefits they are supposed to. Publishing this information, including IDA costs, helps to increase their accountability.”
Since 2011, the number of active IDA projects has remained relatively stable, but total project value has been increasing, according to the report. Average project value over the period increased 76% from $16.5 million per project in 2011 to $29.2 million in 2021. County IDAs were responsible for 61.2% of all active IDA projects in 2021, followed by towns (18.5%), cities (12.3%), New York City (7.4%), villages (0.5%), and city-town IDAs (0.1%).
Some of the key findings of the Comptroller’s report are:
- Tax exemptions for IDA projects totaled almost $1.9 billion, an increase of $134 million, or 7.7%, over 2020. The largest exemptions in any year are property tax exemptions, which totaled $1.7 billion, or 89.1% of the total exemptions.
- Net tax benefits for IDA projects (reflecting total tax exemptions minus payments in lieu of taxes) totaled almost $1.1 billion for the year, an increase of $87 million (9%) from the previous year. This continues a longer-term trend of increasing net tax benefits.
- Project operators estimated that 221,287 jobs would be created during the life of their projects, with a median salary of $40,000. This is 3,942 fewer jobs (1.7%) than in 2020. Another 241,236 jobs were retained with a median salary of $45,000.
- IDAs had total revenues of $132 million, an increase of $60 million from 2020. The New York City IDA had the largest revenues at $14.6 million, $12.3 million of which was attributed to the project finance fees from the refunding bond closings of Yankee Stadium LLC and Queens Ballpark Co. LLC (Citi Field).
- Total IDA expenses in 2021 were $79.3 million, down $5.4 million from 2020. The largest operating expense category for IDAs was professional service contracts for accounting, legal, or marketing services ($21.7 million, or 27%, of the total). Erie County IDA had the highest expenses ($9 million), followed by New York City IDA ($6.8 million), and Genesee County IDA ($5.9 million).
- IDAs reported 359 new projects in 2021, led by Finger Lakes region IDAs, which reported 80 new projects with a combined project value of $1.9 billion, followed by Long Island IDAs with 69 new projects with a combined project value of nearly $2.8 billion.
- The number of “clean energy” projects, increased from 25 to 85. Some of the increase is a result of the election by some IDAs to reclassify existing projects, but 34 of the 60 new clean energy projects were approved in 2021. North Country IDAs reported 30 clean energy projects in 2021, far outpacing other regions. In addition, Western New York IDAs reported 18 such projects and Southern Tier IDAs reported 14.
- Legislation enacted in 2020 temporarily authorized IDAs to provide loans and grants to small businesses and not-for-profit corporations during the COVID-19 State disaster emergency. Erie County IDA, which established a COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program in July 2020, was responsible for $5.8 million (68.1%) of all reported grants and donations in 2021.
Three IDAs—Town of Concord IDA, Town of Corinth IDA and City of Mount Vernon IDA—did not submit their data in time for this report. The Comptroller’s report also contains information on Local Development Corporations, a related type of local authority.
The report summarized data as reported by IDAs for fiscal year end 2021 through the Public Authorities Reporting Information System (PARIS) and is not independently verified by the State Comptroller’s Office. While most IDAs operate on a calendar year basis, several, including the New York City IDA, do not.