Proposing Creative Alternatives
CITIZENS FOR A BETTER SYRACUSE is an organization whose goal is to improve the quality of life in our community through realistic attention to sustainable economic growth and the improvement of educational opportunities at all levels, while maintaining a responsible consideration of the effects on the environment.
CITIZENS FOR A BETTER SYRACUSE will attempt to meet this goal through efforts to organize and sponsor citizen's forums, meetings, and citizen groups. This will help participants to analyze, debate, and promote ideas which are believed to be essential to the positive economic, educational and social development of the entire metropolitan Syracuse area.
Reason #1: The PILOT agreement in its current status has not been adequately examined by the community at large, nor by the governmental bodies whose responsibility it is to determine whether to approve the PILOT. This is in part due to the great haste being generated by the Pyramid Cos. Since public money is involved in the PILOT, then the public must have the opportunity to view all the supporting data and assumptions that Pyramid has amassed to indicate why they think such a project is viable for the Syracuse area.
Reason #2: This agreement is too financially risky. Our community is buying this mall expansion by giving up at least $300 million in property taxes. There are some potential scenarios where we as a community make back this investment in the form of sales tax revenue, but there are numerous potential scenarios where we lose this money and possibly much more. Many steps are being skipped that would reduce these risks. There is no certified financial statement of pyramid (usually a routine step in any deal of this size) to make sure Pyramid will be able to come through with what they have promised. There are few meaningful performance guarantees to specify what we get for our $300 million. There is no sound analysis made public that makes sure there are no lurking hidden costs. Our calculations, based on the assumption that the current PILOT agreement being continued and not replaced with the proposed new one, show that we may lose as much as $433,000,000 over the period from 2000 to 2030.
Reason #3: This agreement does not include sufficient benefits to our community. At a recent meeting Pyramid's representative asked that we not think about the financial risk and instead keep our eye on the ball - the ball according to Pyramid being the jobs to be created by the expansion. The primary job creation will be service jobs at low wages - so low that they cannot support a family, support the purchase of a home, or support the kind of discretionary spending our community needs. We feel these jobs are not worth the price. The retail jobs in our community are already unfilled - help wanted signs hang in nearly every window in the mall today. We feel that any expenditure of public funds of this magnitude should be producing jobs that, at a minimum, pay a living wage. Further, many of these apparently new jobs will be created at the expense of harming current businesses. This is the experience with the current Carousel Center which had a marked effect upon employment at Fairmont Fair, Fayetteville Mall, PennCan Mall, Camillus Mall and the downtown.
Reason #4: The success of the planned expansion depends strongly upon the Syracuse area becoming a region of high tourist attraction. Estimates as high as 25 million tourists annually have been made. The impact on the social, physical and environmental quality should be carefully examined to determine if we want this area to become another Atlantic City.
Reason #5: Most importantly, this mall expansion does not replace a sound community development plan - we should reject this plan and instead demand a real plan be developed that can be demonstrated to improve our economy and our community. The plan should be focused to develop high-wage jobs. We need a plan to make the most of our lake shore area. We must not squander the chance to take advantage of the longest economic growth period in our nation's history; thus, we must put a plan in place as has been done in numerous other communities. The fact of the matter is, it is never too late to start doing the right thing.
CITIZENS FOR A BETTER SYRACUSE:
Proposing Creative Alternatives for a More Viable Syracuse
Last updated 28 January 2001.