Niagara Gazette — The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is being asked to beef up its local hiring conditions for tax-break recipients and, also, take financial benefits away from companies caught employing illegal aliens.
This week, in two 14-0 votes, the Niagara County Legislature approved measures calling on the NCIDA Board of Directors to impose and enforce a 100-percent local hiring requirement for companies that have Payment In Lieu of Taxes contracts with it.
The agency already has a local hiring policy for PILOT recipients, but the policy doesn’t state a required minimum percentage of local labor, and recipients’ compliance is not routinely policed. Companies receiving tax benefits are more or less on an honor system, according to Lockport Mayor and acting NCIDA board Chairman Michael Tucker.
The legislature’s Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, proposed the agency adopt a hiring policy similar to the one set by the County of Monroe IDA, which requires its tax-relief grantees to use 100 percent “local” labor, except in cases relating to equipment warranty issues, specialized construction, local versus non-local labor cost differentials or the lack of available local labor. Local hires are defined as residents of Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.
Since the policy went into effect in 2004, COMIDA granted tax relief on 367 construction projects that generated 15,578 construction jobs. Developers sought waivers on 1 percent or 320 jobs, according to agency Director Judy A. Seil. Exemptions granted by the agency are reviewed by an independent auditing firm.
Enforcing a local-hire policy is a challenge for NCIDA, according to Tucker.
“We do monitor the best we can, but it’s not like we’re going to hire somebody to do a (project by project) head count,” he said. “We will take both of those (legislative resolutions) up, though. I will make sure they’re brought to the table.”