New York Focus: Amazon Likely to Win Nine-Figure Tax Break To Build Western New York Warehouse
Amazon is expected to clear a final hurdle this week to receive more than $124 million in tax breaks to build a warehouse in the town of Niagara in western New York, among the largest subsidies the company will have ever received.
The tax breaks are part of an incentive package that the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), tasked with promoting industrial development in the region, is offering Amazon to build a $550 million warehouse and create 300 temporary construction jobs and over 1,000 permanent warehouse jobs.
Those taxpayer dollars would in large part be redirected from the revenue stream for the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District, which receives nearly half of its revenue from local property taxes.
Critics warn that the facility could cost more jobs in the community than it would create, as Amazon warehouses have done elsewhere by adversely affecting local retail industries, and would offer a lower wage than the vast majority of existing jobs in Niagara County.
“A deal that doesn’t at least require one of the largest, richest corporations in the world to pay for community benefits, livable wages, and to mitigate clear environmental impacts, is no deal at all,” a coalition of labor unions and corporate watchdogs wrote in a letter to the Niagara County Industrial Development Authority, signed by the independent Amazon Labor Union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, and five state and local corporate watchdog groups.
“There has been very noticeable pushback to Amazon at the local level across the country recently,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project, one of the groups that signed the letter. “Amazon is increasingly turning to secrecy as a tool to get these projects approved by local governments.”