Friday, December 21, 2007

DDDB/NY Daily News on Pilots

My note: Who pays for this shit? You and me. The justification is 'it brings jobs' well, when I get my food at the Korean deli (nice guy on Lafayyette) I bring jobs. I don't get tax breaks. Who then, bears the burden of paying for the infrastructure? Middle class tax payers while super wealthy big corporations get tax breaks - and small and medium size business and manufacturers -who haven't had the wisdom to bribe contribute to politicians pick up the tab for billionaires like Bruce Ratner and the New York "we should raises taxes, except for us" Times.

Yes the system is broke, and that won't be just a metaphor when our long ignored infrastructure starts to break down or fuel prices jack up the price of a loaf of bread - oh that's already happening.

It's Auto-PILOT for Forest City Ratner

The Daily News's Juan Gonzalez takes a much needed look at the City's use of PILOTS (Payments in Lieu of Taxes). These PILOTS enable large corporations to avoid paying their property taxes. Of course PILOTS are a huge part of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. These payments they'll make in lieu of property taxes, instead of going into city coffers for the common treasury, will go to paying off the construction bond debt for their Barclays Center arena and to the State of New York. One year to the day since the poiltical approval of Atlantic Yards by the Public Authorities Control Board and still nobody has any idea what the amount of Atlantic Yards PILOTs will be. Nobody.

Gonzalez highlights the Ratner PILOT history and plan for Atlantic Yards, placed alongside some of the the biggest corporation's in the city. Why might you not have heard much about this issue before? One reason, Gonzalez explains, is that Forest City Ratner's business partner and parent of the Paper of Record, the New York Times Company, "feeds at the same trough."

The Gonzalez column:

Deals that lead to lost property taxes

New York City lost more than $100 million in property taxes last year because of privately negotiated deals with some of the world's richest companies.

The companies - including behemoths like JPMorgan Chase, Pfizer and NBC - have paid a fraction of their normal property tax bill for years through these little-known deals, commonly called PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes).

An internal Bloomberg administration report obtained by the Daily News shows:
  • The giant American International Group paid nothing in PILOTs for fiscal 2007, saving $4.1 million on its annual property tax bill.
  • The American Stock Exchange, that symbol of the free market, paid a mere $1,070 in PILOTs - far less than a South Bronx homeowner would pay in taxes. The exchange's tax break from City Hall saved it nearly $1.5 million.
  • JPMorgan Chase paid just $1.9million in PILOTs, 20% of the $9.6 million in property taxes it normally would be assessed.
Most New Yorkers are aware of the outrageous $10 million property tax exemption Madison Square Garden has enjoyed for decades, courtesy of the state Legislature.

So why haven't we heard much about these other tax giveaways in, say, the liberal New York Times? Maybe because the newspaper of record is feeding at the same trough.

The Times paid $219,000 in PILOTs last year for its new printing plant in College Point, Queens, the report said. That's a paltry 13% of the $1.7 million assessed tax on the Times plant.

The undisputed king of PILOTs is real estate developer Bruce Ratner. His Forest City/Ratner firm paid the city $9.7 million last year for half a dozen commercial buildings the company owns in downtown Brooklyn. That sounds like a lot of money - until you realize it's only one-third of the company's actual $26.3 million property tax bill.

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