Gannett's Albany Bureau recently filed a story (http://www.pressconnects.com/print/article/20110314/NEWS10/103140363/State-funded-brownfield-program-disappoints ), picked up across New York State, asserting that the State's brownfield redevelopment tax credit program "is not living up to expectations," citing a "study" by Environmental Advocates of New York. A spokeswoman said "the Brownfield Cleanup Program was created with the intention to help low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods, but... has failed to help those areas." |
The reporter also cited the Albany Bureau's own review of Department of Taxation and Finance reports, showing that the program had "paid out roughly $464 million in tax credits over the last three years to developers" while developers "spent [only] $353 million of their own money" on site cleanups--implying that the program is a failure because the State paid out more in incentives than developers spent on cleanups.
Although critics of the NY Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) law seem to feel that repeating an untruth often enough makes it true--and that big lies bear repeating more often than little ones--fibs are fibs, big or small, no matter how often repeated.
As I pointed out in a Guest Viewpoint (http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20110313/VIEWPOINTS02/103130309/Brownfield-cleanup-program-good-investment ), published in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Elmira Star Gazette, and the Ithaca Journal, "[i]t is hard for a program to live up to expectations when 'expectations' are re-manufactured after the fact."
In fact, the primary goal of the tax credit program was always to encourage redevelopment, and not merely cleanup, of underutilized and blighted brownfield properties. If the Tax Department kept data, which it doesn't, on the value of redevelopment projects, "they would show that, throughout the state, investments in local economies stimulated by brownfield tax credits dwarf, by a factor of 10 or more, the outlays in tax credits." (I base that on the fact that the tangible property component of the tax credit has been mostly in the 10% range--even before caps were imposed under the 2008 BCP amendments.)
As to the claim that the BCP law was intended to help low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods, it is true that extra bonus tax credits were provided for cleanup and redevelopment in so-called "Environmental Zones" (high poverty areas). However, few people, poor or otherwise, live in the industrial areas where most brownfields are located, making it very difficult for such areas to qualify as "En-Zones." The 2008 amendments at least partially fixed this problem by giving bonus tax credits to sites in "Brownfield Opportunity Areas" in which many more people live.
I invite other members of this List-Serv to weigh-in on this issue.
Kenneth S. Kamlet
Attorney at Law
Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP
80 Exchange Street
Binghamton, NY 13902-5250
Cell: (607) 343-2713
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