By: John Bonora
The future economic success of Grand Island lies in creating a pro-business climate that attracts desirable companies. One of the important programs of the EDAB in 2004 has been meeting with regional Economic Development individuals from various Western New York organizations and communities. From these interchanges, we have learned that local communities in Western New York have become very proactive in promoting themselves to site selectors and to companies looking to expand or relocate. We have also learned from these individuals and from our own analysis, that attracting commercial business to our community will provide important benefits. These include increased tax revenues and contribution levels that will provide Grand Island with funding for recreation resources and an improved town infrastructure. Badly needed equipment and refurbishing of our schools will also be possible. As costs in our schools go up so will our taxes unless we attract businesses to our island. This will improve the quality of life for all Grand Island residents. In addition, growth in commercial businesses will benefit existing Island small businesses that will provide products and services to the new companies.
At a recent meeting with the EDAB, Pam Whitney, the Town Accountant, provided detailed information regarding taxation and service usage.
In 1992, Fiddler and Company completed a study on this subject for the Town. Pam walked us through the details comparing all sources of revenue and expenses. It allocates these to residential, commercial, or open land. The net result of the study shows the ratio of revenues to expenditures for each classification as shown below:
Land use Category Services (expenditures)
For each $1.00 of revenue contributed
Open Land $0.42
This means that for every $1.00 contributed by a residential taxpayer he/she receives $1.07 in services such as snowplowing, trash collection, etc. For every dollar contributed by commercial taxpayers they receive $.52 in services. Simply put, taxes collected from residences are not enough alone to pay for the services they receive. Taxes collected from businesses are needed to offset the loss from residential taxes. Undeveloped land only requires $.42 in services but the tax rate for undeveloped land is too small to bring in any significant revenue. Other towns, like Wheatfield, have actually reduced their taxes by aggressively attracting business to their town.
Presently, growth is occurring in both residential and commercial development on Grand Island. However, it is important that this growth be managed in a way that brings in the types of businesses that we would prefer to have as community members and located in zones most suitable for business without infringing on residential or environmental areas. This can only be done through a proactive, rather than a reactive program that defines our goals and takes positive action on Economic Development.
The EDAB is very interested in the opinions of Grand Island residents and businesses regarding the issues discussed in this article. We believe that through an ongoing dialogue, it will be possible to achieve economic growth while respecting the rights and concerns of Island residents. Please let us know your views on Economic Development by responding to this article or write to the EDAB, care of town hall.