MONTGOMERY – Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley), Chair of the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, announced as part of his ongoing investigation into public authority practices across New York State, including industrial development authorities (IDAs), Skoufis will be opening up a comprehensive investigation into Medline’s efforts to secure property tax breaks from the Town of Montgomery IDA. A number of red flags warrant an in-depth inquiry:
* Without a dime of incentives, Medline stands to net – profit – over $74 million in just the first year. Why must taxpayers subsidize this enormously profitable project?
* Medline abruptly ended negotiations with the Orange County IDA in order to “shop around” for a more lucrative deal with the Town of Montgomery IDA.
* The company is set to abandon their Wawayanda, Orange County warehouse just as their 10-year property tax breaks are due to expire. Now, they want to start a whole new round of 10-15 years of incentives.
* Medline has already purchased prime real estate for their new project at a cost of $17 million. This is not something a company still weighing their options does. This is not a company that requires incentives.
Skoufis made his announcement surrounded by members of the community and union representatives, all wearing shirts that said, “Pay your damn taxes!” Three weeks ago, Skoufis provided testimony at a public hearing expressing his strong opposition to Medline’s PILOT application, pointing to the tax break application as pure corporate greed on the backs of Montgomery’s taxpayers.
Senator Skoufis said, “I’m not going to stand by and allow some huge corporation to run roughshod over the taxpayers I represent. My investigators will soon be sending out document requests to Medline, the Town of Montgomery IDA, the Orange County Partnership, and every entity Medline has engaged with on the tax break issue in order to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Our investigation will seek to identify Medline’s – and others’ – true rationale for the proposed PILOT, why they abruptly abandoned the Orange County IDA to pursue incentives from the Montgomery IDA, and what, if any, impropriety was committed during this process. Accountability will be injected into this process.”
Cheri Zahakos, Town of Montgomery resident said, “I along with others have worked and invested in our home town. We’ve paid our taxes and what we achieved, we’ve done without handouts. Should Medline decided to go forward, they should pay the entire tax bill as every citizen is required to. The residents of this community deserve honest, transparent answers before we are forced to support Medline’s desires with our taxes. We must hold our representatives accountable and I believe this investigation will do just that. I thank Senator Skoufis for his integrity and efforts on behalf of the taxpayers.”
In addition to this investigation, this past legislative session, Skoufis introduced a package of bills aimed at reforming IDAs. The bills focus on increasing accountability and transparency in the IDA process, reining in corporate welfare, and reducing the opportunities for conflicts of interest. Skoufis remains committed to ensuring that taxpayers aren’t being taken advantage of by enormous corporations with teams of lawyers and lobbyists. Skoufis welcomes members of the community to send tips to expose unethical behavior to firstname.lastname@example.org