Sunday, July 19, 2015

Newsday: Ratner seeks tax breaks for Nassau Coliseum; editorial points to Ratner flip-flop on job promises

Remember how Nassau Coliseum redeveloper Bruce Ratner claimed in 2013, in response to a question about government subsidies, "This is one of those opposites. We're giving the municipality money, not a nickel from the municipality, all privately financed, all privately done."

Well, as I wrote, it's never that simple, and government assistance comes in different forms. Indeed, Newsday reported 7/18/15, Nassau Coliseum developer Bruce Ratner seeks more than $4.4 million in IDA tax breaks:
Developer Bruce Ratner is seeking more than $3 million in sales tax exemptions and $1 million in relief from mortgage recording taxes from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for his overhaul of the Nassau Coliseum, agency officials said.
Ratner, who expects to begin renovating the Coliseum in the coming weeks, would use the $3.37 million sales tax exemption to pay for equipment, construction materials and furnishings, said Nassau IDA executive director Joseph Kearney.
...Ratner has said he would seek IDA assistance on the project and his lease agreement with the county indicates that he could not undertake the project without the agency's involvement.
Newsday noted that Ratner also wants a $1.1 million cut in mortgage recording taxes. Also, the IDA expects another application at a later date regarding tax breaks for the associated retail and entertainment complex. 

Guess what, Ratner wouldn't comment. There's a public hearing this coming Thursday, July 23.

A critical editorial

In an editorial 7/17/15, Nassau Coliseum workers need developer to keep promise, Newsday notes that the 2,500 part-time and 40 full-time Coliseum employees "have no assurances of a job, or even an interview, when the doors reopen"--but Ratner made very different promises two years ago:
. . . Number one is to hire the existing people that are there. We do not want people to be out of jobs," he told county legislators.
(In May and earlier this month, I cited that 2013 Ratner promise. I mentioned it in a draft of the op-ed I wrote for Newsday in May, but that passage was cut for space.)

While Ratner's people say it's premature, given that a new arena operator will do the hiring, it's still not fair, Newsday declares, arguing that former workers deserve priority.

Indeed, Newsday could have mentioned that, in arena hiring in Brooklyn, Forest City Ratner has pledged priority to residents of the four surrounding Community Districts, served by Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8, as well as public housing residents.

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