Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Accountable Development Redux

In today's NY Sun Dave Lombino continues to give us in-depth reports on important real estate issues. In the current piece he focuses in on P(ayments) I(n) L(iu) O(f) T(axes). The importance of the story derives from its connection to the issue of accountable development. The City Council to its credit has forced the administration to disclose the companies tyhat are receiving these PILOT benefits. This is, however, only the beginning of what the Council should be doing.

The ULURP process should never be seen as an exclusively environmental policy review but rather as an accountable development review with the evaluation accompanying the land use application focusing, not only on traffic and air quality, but also on the economic impacts of the development.

In addition, the review should look at development from a cost-benefit perspective where an independent consultant, one who is not hired by the developer, reviews things like job growth vs. job loss and the quality of the jobs being created. Of extreme importance to the Alliance is the impact of the project on locally-based businesses because studies have shown that local firms yield a multiplyer effect that has a greater economic boost for the local economy than out-of town companies that are generally not supplied by indigenous wholesalers.

Finally, all tax incentives need to be factored into the overall cost-benefit analysis because it makes little economic sense, nor is it equitable, to subsidize out of towners or politically favored companies, for that matter, when a more comprehensive tax cut would yield a more positive economic result for the city. As Nicole Gelinas points out, "If we can afford to take so many companies in effect off the tax rolls, then why can't the city afford to implement business tax cuts across the board?