March 30, 2004

Tompkins County industrial development and wages

Dryden County Legislator Mike Lane is quoted a lot in an Ithaca Journal story about the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency and C&D Assembly in Groton, in his role as chair of the IDA's Board of Directors.

The questions are fairly complicated, but center on what's an appropriate use of taxpayer money, expressed through tax abatements. C&D seems to be doing well and growing, but the jobs they're creating start out at $6.42, well below the $8.68 most recently calculated as a 'living wage' for Tompkins County. Lane notes:

"It is an industrial facility providing jobs in a rural area. We would like to help them in their expansion. But we are concerned about the pay and benefits. If a business isn't approaching livable wage characteristics, we have to ask ourselves, 'Should we be subsidizing jobs at taxpayer expense?'... We are a conservative IDA.... We try to be careful with the abatements we give. They need to be effective for the local economy. They aren't some kind of gift. We expect some kind of return."

The company describes the lower-wage jobs as a way "to screen people," though they also note that employees they've trained have gone elsewhere to work because of a lack of opportunities in the company, something they hope to help with this expansion. The number of employees at the company has doubled in the last year, and the article concludes on a hopeful note that things can be worked out. The abatements received a preliminary approval, and the final vote is Friday.

Update: The tax breaks were approved.

Posted by simon at March 30, 2004 5:24 PM in ,
Note on photos