ALBANY New York's Industrial Development Agencies, the economic development arm for local governments, supported more than 4,500 projects and provided $554 million in tax exemptions in 2012, but the job gains dipped by 2,417 compared to 2011, a report Tuesday said.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the 112 IDAs across New York increased the value of tax exemptions to projects by 9.4 percent in 2012, but the number of jobs gained from the projects fell 1.1. percent—from 216,519 in 2011 to 215,519 in 2012.
"I continue to stress the need for more accountability and disclosure to ensure taxpayers are getting their money's worth," DiNapoli said in a statement. "New Yorkers should not be left to doubt the effectiveness of providing businesses with tax breaks and other benefits."
IDAs across New York have drawn criticism for offering lucrative tax breaks with little public scrutiny and questionable returns. The IDAs doled out $1.3 billion in total tax exemptions in 2012.
New York has relied on tax breaks and incentives for businesses because the state has among the highest taxes in the nation. To that point, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year is pushing tax-free zones near college campuses to promote job growth.
The return on investments varied significantly across the state. For example, the net exemption per job in Erie County was $11,587, while it was $1,480 in Monroe County. The tax breaks averaged $7,000 per job in Chemung County, but $4,800 in Broome and $1,361 in Tompkins County.
The exemptions were less compared to each job in the Hudson Valley: $677 per job in Rockland County; $656 in Putnam County and $159 in Westchester County.
The report showed that IDAs granted the highest amount of tax exemptions on Long Island ($118 million), in the Capital District ($93.7 million) and the Mid-Hudson valley ($89.9 million). The highest number of IDA-sponsored projects in 2012 were in western New York (837).