On Feb. 21, the town board passed the local law enacting the 485-B Tax Incentive Program. After reading a letter in the editor by Mr. Melvyn Tanzman, I see that he has quite a lot of confusion in not only the law, but also the process of how government works.
I would like to address the process and the law for clarification. As Mr. Tanzman just started to attend meetings on a regular basis this year, I do not think he realizes how long the tax incentive program has been before the town board and how the law has been researched and vetted.
I will start by addressing how long the program has been before the public. I, along with my running mates, made a promise to make Yorktown a destination for businesses as well as incentivizing current businesses to make improvements on their properties. On April 5, the Town Board, after a public hearing, enacted a local law that formed the Industrial Commercial Incentive Board (ICIB). During the public hearing, the citizens had an opportunity to be heard on the law. In fact, several people appeared at the public hearing and expressed comments as well as support for the ICIB. Mr. Tanzman did not attend the public hearing and did not submit comments to the town board on the ICIB. All of the town board members saw the benefit of this board and it passed unanimously.
The next issue to address regards the choosing of the ICIB members. Mr. Tanzman was under the impression that the supervisor and the town attorney selected the members of the ICIB. Actually, the members that were chosen for the ICIB came from a pool of applicants with business experience. The entire town board interviewed all of the applicants and then the board voted on the members. While we had originally slated for five members, in order to have the widest variety of experienced business people the town board chose to add an alternate sixth member, Bob Giordano. Even the decision to add the extra member was voted on. All of the votes were unanimous.
The first public meeting of the ICIB was in mid-2016. The ICIB met monthly thereafter in Room 209 in the YCCC. Each meeting was an open meeting and advertised on the town’s website and Mr. Tanzman was free to attend each meeting to listen to the discussion of the ICIB, which he did not.
During its meetings, the ICIB met with town board members, the assessor as well as the planning department members. The ICIB wrestled with the parameters of the incentive as well as conducting research on other towns in New York State that currently offers the incentive. Our town attorney, Michael McDermott, to insure that they fit the parameters of the state legislation, acted as counsel to the ICIB and assisted the members with their mission. One of the issues vetted that Mr. Tanzman brings up was whether or not to exclude the larger national companies. The decision was discussed with vigor in the ICIB meetings and the recommendation was not to be exclusive of anyone that could bring much needed jobs to our town. Finally, in January 2017, the ICIB issued its final report to the town board, which made recommendations on the enactment of the incentive program.
The final issue I would like to address is the politicizing of an issue for personal gain. I believe that Mr. Tanzman, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for supervisor this year, showed us his true motivation by saying “It was quite evident that the four Republican members of the board had already determined to vote in favor and no contrary evidence or views would be considered.” He then called the public hearing a “sham.” I would normally strike this up to a person’s lack of understanding of the procedures except for the fact that all five members of the town board voted in favor of it, including Councilman Patel, a Democrat. If Mr. Tanzman had waited until the end of the meeting before going home, he could have asked the question about procedure that another citizen had asked. The answer entailed all I spoke about above and how that after a year of discussion, if there is no new information brought to the town board, it is the time to vote. Our taxpayers deserve decisions and not roadblocks.