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Information Update

December 6, 2000

Assembled by John D. Brulé

The Common Council is about to vote on a mall expansion proposal that requires the City to give up 30 additional years of property taxes which would help fund schools and municipal services. In exchange, we're promised sales tax revenue - for 5 years, at which time Onondaga County can simply decide not to renew the Pirro/Bernardi 70/30 tax deal. The entire proposal makes the City completely dependent upon sales tax revenue to achieve any benefit from the mall. Yet the County completely controls sales tax distribution. In fact, this past June, the County imposed a punitive 10 year sales tax distribution formula upon the City. It caps City sales tax at the current level, allowing for only a maximum annual growth of 2%.

How can our City Council leave City taxpayers exposed like this?

The original mall in 1990 was based upon a similar promise - give up all property tax revenue, but you'll benefit from increased sales tax. What really happened? Shown below are the County Finance Department calculations, and they demonstrate that the County is keeping it all. The City share has actually decreased since the mall was built.

This June's 10-year deal guarantees that it will happen again.


Onondaga County Finance Department
Division of Management and Budget
Onondaga County Sales Tax Proceeds

 

Year County Share City Share
1990 $46.2 Million $47.2 Million
1999 $66.8 Million $47.4 Million
2000 estimate 467.1 Million $45.4 Million

No wonder the County Executive likes the deal!


Sample Letter

Here is a sample letter. Revise and send to the Common Council, if you care to.


My name is-------------- and I live at ------------------ in the City of Syracuse

I think it is helpful to look at the current mall, and the deal made on it 11 years ago, to help evaluate the PILOT proposal

The original mall deal provides no tax payments from the mall for 15 years. Not a nickel for our schools, or important public services. We were told it would rejuvenate the economy and generate new sales tax revenue.

Sound familiar?

In the year 2000 the City's annual share of County sales tax receipts is $2 million less than in 1990. The County's share has increased by more than $20 million a year. Yet the City gave up all property tax revenue, and provides all the required public services to the mall - police, fire, etc. To put it bluntly, the City got hosed.

To add insult to injury, Pyramid is collecting millions of extra dollars annually from its tenants, and making a huge profit on its City granted PILOT deal.

Now lets look at this new proposal: 30 more years of no property tax revenue for City Schools and services, and a promise, again, of a sales tax bonanza.

But there's a huge problem with the sales tax deal. It's only good for 5 years, and the County can simply decide not to renew it.

By the way, in June, the County conveniently imposed a 10-year deal on the City, which caps our sales tax receipts at the 1990 level, and limits any potential growth to 2%. That's the formula if they withdraw after 5 years.

So what are you really about to vote on?

A deal that eliminates property tax revenue to the City for 30 more years, in exchange for the promise of future sales taxes, which depends entirely on the mood of the County Executive and Legislature in 2005. Haven't you learned anything?

Shame on you if you leave us City taxpayers in such a precarious position, completely at the mercy of the County.

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