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Reduced Quality of Life: The Hidden Cost of Property Tax Giveaways

Due to the overwhelming response I received about the series on the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency (MVIDA) and the irresponsible PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) programs, I am going to continue the topic to address a few more items we didn’t get a chance to spend much time on. To briefly summarize, in the IDA series we attempted to give an overview of “economic development” in general, including all the ways that cities and governments can attract new investors to their area (e.g., new factories, new stores, new jobs, etc.). We walked through the Industrial Development Agencies and the extremely broad powers they have on a city-by-city basis, using taxpayer dollars, to attract

AN OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR RICHARD THOMAS

Dear Mayor Thomas: It should come as no surprise by now to anyone following politics in Mount Vernon that you've issued yet another rambling, incoherent conspiracy theory about "forces" trying to bring you down. You've been beating that drum for a years now. If it's not me, it's Comptroller Reynolds. If not her, then former Mayor Davis or Comptroller Maureen Walker. If not them, then Chase Bank. The Attorney General, the District Attorney, the courts, the "system," - the list goes on and on. One thing is always the same in all of these tinfoil-hat theories of yours: the blame for your personal failings always falls at the feet of someone else. I'm not going to address the fiction contain

ANOTHER AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY IN MOUNT VERNON

We have too much experience with senseless loss in Mount Vernon, too many personal stories of lives delayed, ruined, or lost. Our hearts are too heavy, too often in the wake of too much tragedy, especially when that tragedy visits our children. Unfortunately, we find ourselves here again, mourning the loss of another child too soon. Drew Faustin, a fourth-grader at Graham Elementary School, was struck and killed by a car last week on Columbus Avenue. Just days before Mother’s Day and a week before his 10th birthday, Drew’s family must now try to make some sense of their loss. And, as a community, so do we. How do we find sense in this senselessness? How do we honor Drew’s memory in a w

RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT MEANS REAL PRIORITIES

In Part 1 of the series, we talked about the dangers and bad actors that lurk in the background of “economic development.” Part 2 addressed the giveaways and misplaced priorities associated with the current version of the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency (MVIDA). This column is the final installment of my series on Responsible Development, which, we’ll look to pull everything together and chart a path forward. It’s no surprise to anyone looking around this city or reading the press, Mount Vernon faces a number of tough challenges ahead. Whether from environmental orders or Federal lawsuits or the consequences of fiscal irresponsibility at the hands of this administration, we nee

RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT MEANS REAL TRANSPARENCY - Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

In this series, we’re discussing a concept I call “Responsible Development,” primarily by analyzing the irresponsible development that has been going on for too long in Mount Vernon. To get to the root of that, we need to spend some time looking at the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency (MVIDA). Before we do that, though, I wanted to recap briefly Part 1 of this series where we learned that “industrial development agencies” are a creation of state law given exceedingly broad powers to spur local investment and development. The track record of these IDA’s is decidedly mixed, with more taxpayer dollars going out the door than coming in usually. As we’ll see with the MVIDA, these “blac

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