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Tops logoSo far this year, Monroe County’s economic development agency, COMIDA,  has awarded tax breaks to two Tops Markets stores to aid their moves down the street.

COMIDA approved an incentive package for the Tops in Henrietta to relocate to a different plaza on Jefferson Rd. The move allows Tops to install a gas station. Without the incentive package, COMIDA said Tops would leave Henrietta, taking with it 79 existing jobs and 18 new ones. Tops was awarded sales tax exemptions on $2 million of renovations. The plaza owner was awarded sales tax exemptions on $320,000 of work.

COMIDA also approved tax breaks for Tops in Irondequoit to move to a different plaza on East Ridge Road. As in Henrietta, the move allows Tops to build a gas station. The store threatened to leave Irondequoit, costing 79 jobs and 18 new ones. (Interesting how the two stores employ the exact same number of people.) The plaza owner received sales and mortgage tax exemptions on $10.7 million of work, as well as additional property tax abatements. Tops is getting a sales tax break on $2 million of work.

Let’s be clear about why Tops is moving these stores – gas stations. Fuel brought in $51 million in sales in the third quarter of last year, a jump of 7 percent. Gas is an integral part of the business model for the chain.

We have to ask whether the threat to close the stores was real.

Tops has 153 stores. Its third-quarter profit was $4.7 million on sales of $538 million. It has been adding stores, particularly in smaller, existing supermarket locations. Even if the Henrietta and Irondequoit stores needed gas to survive, it’s doesn’t automatically follow Tops would have left those towns. If Monroe County had told Tops it wouldn’t get a deal in any of the towns, would Tops really have closed stores and abandoned two population centers? Would the county really have lost 158 low-paying service jobs? What would the impact have been if Tops did leave?

(In case you’re wondering, Wegmans also gets incentives. COMIDA most recently approved property tax abatements for a cheese-aging building.)

Sometime we should see what happens when we say, “No.”

Links of the Day:

– Experts don’t know why gas prices are rising in Western New York.

– Schumer wants a bank to stop harassing a couple over their dead son’s college loans.

– A coalition including Rochester Institute of Technology is bidding to make Upstate New York a drone testing site.

“Wages today constitute the lowest share of both corporate revenue and the nation’s economy since World War Two.”

– The WalMart of weed. This is the future.

– Walking is not a crime. Why do we often blame the victim?

9 Responses to Tops Tax Help

  1. How excellent is this? We are spending our tax dollars to move grocery stores around in suburban malls? Are we serious? That is just insane. Where is the Tea Party outrage on this waste? There are many, many better things for tax dollars to go toward in our troubled city.

  2. February 21, 2013 at 9:06 am DominionROC responds:

    As I stated before….COMIDA is just Corporate Welfare and the ability to give back to local developers for past political contributions. The vast majority of COMIDA projects are just local service projects that would of gone forward without government subsidies. They just services needs of a local market. They are NOT new outside money bringing jobs into our region…which should define any economic development project.

    Just look at the list of COMIDA projects….grocery stores, day care centers, adult care centers, shopping centers…etc.

    There needs to be a massive overhaul of all our economic development initiatives. We are just wasting money and not addressing the core strategies that will expand our population and wealth.

  3. Well it’s nice to see TOPS is running a gross sales profit margin of .8%.

    As far as the need for subsidies, it’s kind of like why do folks climb Mt. Everest?

    Because it’s there.

    If it we not for the sycophants running most IDA’s to satisfy their needs to act as players in the development market and fatten political coffers while doing so with low-interest public loans backed by tax-free municipal bonds and direct real estate and sales tax forgiveness, corporate welfare pimps would have nothing to climb.

    With nothing to climb, maybe they’d decide to keep their feet on the ground and live within a .8% gross profit margin.

  4. Stupid waste of taxpayer money. It’s a grocery store, it’ll either locate here because the market supports it or it won’t. It’s not like a factory that could get moved to the Carolina’s. People need groceries, if Tops leaves someone else will move in to fill the void. The second part is what will become of Tops old space? I bet it’ll sit vacant. What good does that do us? The other arguement is these jobs everyone takes about are mostly part time minimuim wage jobs. Not really a boon to the local job market.

  5. February 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm C. Malcolm responds:

    There’s already or was a gas station at the Irondiquit location why cant they just use that section of land. Oh wait that makes to much sense.

  6. I may be dumb, but I don’t believe any tax money is being given to Topps or any business by COMIDA. Isn’t the agreement that these businesses will be given a waiver on paying taxes on their investment in exchange for job creation? There is NO money from the taxpayers involved. The only money involved would be POTENTIAL taxes IF the business did indeed invest in expansion. So you want to call their bluff? As I see it, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Take the investment, with spending going to the construction trades and jobs being kept here. So you give up potential tax money…so what!

  7. February 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm Jason Haremza responds:

    Based on my understanding, OAJ is correct, we are not technically giving them tax dollars, we are foregoing tax revenue. But to me, that’s splitting hairs. The effect is the same. Retail operations in thriving suburban retail areas are being given public benefits. IDAs are out of control. Where is the media scrutiny (and Tea Party outrage) on this?

  8. February 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm Edward Richards responds:

    People …will you please STOP!

    First, whoever calls this crazy is crazy themselves. Yes, the are moving bc of gas. But gas is everything. Gas cooks food. If anything can help a great company lke TOPS, who has to serve to brunt of servicing the poor, more power to them.

    Enough with this tax break crap. EVERYONE deserves a tax break. There wouldn’t be a such thing as develpoment/investment without it. (at least as ny is concerned).

  9. The construction jobs comment is interesting, for all people complain about the lazy, overpaid police, firemen, garbagemen, etc. No one seems to bat an eye at the constant subsidization of construction jobs. We just keep funneling tax dollars to construction companies to over pay workers to build cheap garbage that’ll be vacant or torn down in 10 years anyways.

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