Tonight another local mall has hit a wall when it comes to development. The Rush-Henrietta School District says it will oppose tax breaks for Marketplace Mall.
The mall says it needs the money to expand. Local schools say not so fast. Mall owner Wilmorite wants to spend more than $30 million to grow and improve Marketplace Mall. It's asking for tax breaks from the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency.
Wednesday, the Rush-Henrietta School District delivered a letter to COMIDA saying it has serious concerns with the project. In the letter, the Rush Henrietta School Superintendent said the economic benefits of the project are not a sure bet. Kenneth Graham says if more shoppers are drawn to marketplace, other surrounding businesses would take a hit. Some wouldn't be able to compete and would eventually close. Tax policy expert David Cay Johnston agrees.
"The assertion here is that the market will not finance the expansion of this mall and the improvement of it, so the taxpayers should pay for it. That's not business, that's not free enterprise, that's corporate socialism. That's taking from the many and giving to the already rich few," said David Cay Johnston, Policy Tax Professor.
The district also argued COMIDA should not use the state's tourist destination exception to award the tax breaks in the first place. One shopper we spoke to disagrees.
"I would be in favor of better business and bringing more here to Henrietta. Even if they brought outlets. I would love to go shopping out here more often," said Angela Hamm, proposal proponent.
COMIDA says the Marketplace project would generate more than $6 million in sales and income tax revenue over ten years. Some feel it shouldn't come at the expense of taxpayers.
"I don't think town residents should always be footing the bill if, in many cases, for commercial ventures," said Jeffrey Heininger, project opponent.
The district says it doesn't want to fall for what it called another bad deal. It says it lost money on the Park Point PILOT to the tune of $1-million a year in property tax revenue.