The Planning and Economic Development Committee has been looking at a set of proposed amendments to the city’s tax abatement program for incentivizing downtown development with the goal of increasing the amount of community benefit delivered by these projects.
Discussions have primarily focused on local labor, environmental and energy standards, diversity, and providing a living wage. The options have expanded to include contributions to public transit, providing scholarships for child care, including affordable units, incentivizing certain types of development (say, owner-occupied housing), and more.
There are so many options that at the January 13th meeting of the committee we decided we will need to continue discussion next month. In the meantime, we have passed on to the full Council an amendment to the basic CIITAP (all abatement levels) to require soliciting bids from local sub-contractors and reporting where workers live. The text is below:
Local Construction Labor – Applicants are encouraged to hire locally wherever possible. For the purposes of this application, local is defined as anyone residing in Tompkins County, or any of the 6 contiguous counties of Cayuga, Seneca, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga, and Cortland Counties. In order to be eligible for a tax abatement an applicant must commit to the City in writing that they will meet the minimum local labor requirements described below, and will submit to the IDA the following information:
- Proof that the General Contractor has solicited bids from local sub-contractors for all major trades required for the construction project, including electric, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, and HVAC
- Monthly payroll reporting of all workers on site during construction with a summary of how many employees are “local.” The reporting should include the address, zip-code, and total payroll amount per employee.
Again, this is by no means the end of CIITAP reform. But as we spend months getting it right, this can ensure that we don’t miss out on collecting vital data. It’s an item that arguably should have been included years ago.