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Cable BoxCall centers are bad economic development. The jobs don’t pay well and there’s little opportunity for advancement. There’s high staff turnover. Call centers are easy to open and close.

But none of these concerns stopped the state from awarding Time Warner Cable $3.1 million in tax breaks for a Buffalo call center that will employ 152 people.

This is a company that charges you $100 a month for cable and Internet service and raked in $21 billion in revenue last year.

The Buffalo News reports:

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said such jobs typically pay an average of $15 an hour nationwide, or $31,200 for a 40-hour workweek. That means roughly two-thirds of the average salary would be paid for by tax credits.


Terence Rafferty, regional vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable, confirmed that other states were in the mix, with their own incentives.

Still, he said it wasn’t just the money. “Tax incentives are a business decision,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the people. That’s what makes a business great, the people, not tax incentives.

If that’s true, Mr. Rafferty, please give the incentives back to a community struggling to shore up its tax base.

The size of the tax breaks mean that like Xerox’s call center in Webster, the state could foot the bill for much of the cable giant’s investment. The state is paying rich companies to open call centers that don’t provide the stability needed to rebuild and revitalize the economy.


Links of the Day:


– I reported on the Regional Economic Development Councils failure to disburse money quickly to projects. The state says it doesn’t pay for projects until they’re completed. That makes sense. But when only $19 million has been disbursed out of $1.5 million, there are questions about what is being accomplished.

– Six in 10 children who have Medicaid did not see a dentist in 2011. Dentists often don’t accept Medicaid patients.

Heroin deaths spike in Onondaga County.

– The majority of service members who are sexually assaulted every year are men.

– A Hamburg mother is furious at a crazy teen party at her house that ended with the family car being stolen and set on fire.

– Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a secret visit to North Syracuse graduation ceremony.

18 Responses to Call Center Craziness

  1. If it’s bad economic development, then what’s the other option? Outsourcing the jobs to India?

    The pay isn’t THAT bad. An average rep is paid around $12 an hour and usually has opportunity for boatloads of OT. Can easily make 30k+ starting out.

    • June 25, 2013 at 11:12 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      They are nice for people who need the work, but not the kind of jobs we should be throwing money at to support.

  2. A short term solution which benefits Time Warner. as a business will continue to look for who ever provides the tax breaks. I would expect the call center to move when the tax incentives run out.

  3. June 25, 2013 at 11:14 am Bob Sarbane responds:

    Well, our taxes and utilities are the highest cost in the nation and the State government is the most anti-business in the nation, so who do you expect to come here? There’s fracking…oops…forgot we have just outright prohibited that…

    I’d take what I can get at this point since holding your breath for “good paying jobs” in New York will likely leave you purple.

    As for paying companies to come to NY? In light of the money they waste every day in State government a mere $1 million isn’t even a rounding error in Albany.

    Finally, as for Ms Peoples-Stokes, she’s got a job that pays $80,000 a year for 64 days of work in Albany (mainly sitting around in a chair watching other people do things), so I imagine she does feel a mere $15 an hour is not respectable.

  4. June 25, 2013 at 11:29 am Lee Drake responds:

    While I’m no fan of giving huge tax breaks to large corporations let’s look at the reality here – 150 jobs here or 150 jobs in india – which is better for our economy. The downturn in manufacturing means many blue collar jobs and other minimum wage or slightly higher jobs are disappearing – never to return. Those people working those jobs don’t instantly become able to work at higher paying information worker type jobs. $15/hour is hardly minimum wage, and it’s A JOB in a category where we have a gap in job availability. NYS for all it’s crazy politics actually looks at their demographics and says – where do we have an employment gap – in the upper service level information worker job area or in the lower paying blue collar job area. The answer to that lies in the demographics and statistics. If these call centers are employing people in those demographics they are doing their job.

  5. June 25, 2013 at 11:53 am Patrick Chefalo responds:

    Type => $19 million out $1.5 billion.

  6. June 25, 2013 at 11:59 am DominionROC responds:

    Any time you hear the word “economic development” expect the project to involve “corporate welfare”.

    Again…the rich individual or corporations make substantial profits under these economic development schemes …whereas the working class individual pays more in taxes (to offset less in tax revenue)…and jobs created typically are paying less in wages and benefits.

  7. June 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm lynn e responds:

    Regarding dental health and kids on Medicaid, there are some good clinics in Rochester but they all associated with the hospitals and located in the city. That makes them much more difficult to travel to. Besides, in health class in schools, the curriculum is based on middle class families who go to the dentist. NYS heath curriculums barely touch dental care. When I was in school as a young child, there were actually community health people who went to schools and sat kids in chairs and looked at their teeth. They would write notes home to parents about their teeth just as they still do with eyesight and hearing tests. The budget for public health in schools is close to nil. Kids in elementary school had their eyesight and hearing tested yearly, now it is infrequent. The school is now required to list a dentist on the medical form but it is often left blank and there is no effort for health nurses to assist families in finding dental care Providers. In my younger years the schools would have presentations given by the nurse on how to brush teeth, floss and cavities, etc. Each child would get toothpaste, tooth brushes, a mirror on a stick and a little cup of water. We would brush our teeth at our desk, floss and then chew a red dye tablet which would show us what we missed. Then we could use the mirror and look in the bathrrom mirror to see which places we missed. Dental health education is missing and parents on Medicaid don’t know about teeth nor door the children. People on Medicaid often don’t go to the dentist regularly but see no need. Medicaid often doesn’t pay much past tooth pulling so a cycle begins. It’s not just accessibility in this community but also lack of education.

  8. I must be dense, since I don’t understand how tax breaks equate to the State taxpayers giving these companies money. My understanding is that the State is waiving certain taxes to open businesses and create jobs. They are not giving any money but agreeing not to collect job killing taxes if a company agrees to operate here. Jobs are needed and are a good thing. Lets talk about why WE need to pay all these taxes. Where does the money go? Why can some States not even have income taxes or sales taxes? How do they finance their government needs. I would hope the media would concentrate their efforts on enlightening all of us as to where the money goes? I can guess, but it would be nice to have our free press gather this info and let us know. Wasn’t the idea of a free press suppose to be a watchdog for the government?

    • June 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm DominionROC responds:

      Taxes are not “job killing”…they are the foundation for wealth formation. Roads, bridges, a legal system, an education system, police and fire are all essential ingredients for individuals/business to make money.

      Taxes are investments….not some evil force from mars. The right wing in America is misinforming and distorting the value of government. We desperately need government…its the basis for a civilized society. And when corporations and rich individuals evade or hide from paying taxes…they are destroying America. its called GREED.

  9. My response to taxes are investments….they are needed BUT how much is enough and are they going to the investments that they say they are? My son has a 200K house in Ohio near Cleveland. Nice schools, property is nice, and there total property and schools taxes are 2400/ year. Why should a similar property in Monroe County be 7000 / yr. ? It begs the question and it needs an answer.

    • June 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm DominionROC responds:

      OAJ….my comments were directed at local, state and federal level throughout the U.S…not just in Rochester. Corporations pay little…but the average Joe has to pick up these deficiencies. It’s corporate welfare in EVERY part of the country and it should stop.

      Also, its very problematic to compare one city’s property taxes with another city in another state. How states fund all levels of government services vary widely from state to state. An example …the State Tax rate in NY is 4%…in Ohio its 5.5%. So you pay more in ohio at a state level…and pay less at the local level. Also cities reduce their property tax but have higher fees in other areas like car registration, licencing…or creating special private improvement districts…etc.

      Finally, a point of fact….total taxes in the U.S. is among the lowest…if not the lowest for any advanced society in the world. …and our infrastructure is becoming among the worst! I don’t like paying extra taxes…but society demands more from government…and it comes at a cost that most Americans should be able to afford…especially the rich and large corporations (like Apple).

  10. All good points. Obviously, any decision (or opinion) is only as good as the information you have. There is a lot to consider. So the question remains….is it reasonable for these tax breaks to encourage business to expand here? I really don’t know!

  11. June 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm Orielly responds:

    IF taxes are the “foundation of wealth formation” then why are the highest taxed states in the UNION in deep financial trouble and the lowest taxed states triving?

    Europe has high taxes how’s that worked out?

    With NYS one of the highest taxed states, and Monroe County one of the highest taxed counties how’s that been working out? Why is not the economy not booming here?

    What do our high taxing local political leaders tell us? They don’t / We don’t have any money, we need to raise taxes. Hows the high taxes been working out? Think we get more or better services for our tax dollars vs other sections of the country?

    Hows the tax spending worked on the Fast Ferry, the 250M on High Falls, the 2M a year we spend on a City Run BAR in Charlotte, Hows the highest spend per pupil school district the RCSD been doing with all that money?

    High taxes are the formation of wealth. I could not think of anything being said that is more wrong.

    Government doesn’t solve problems they are the problem. We need a national defense, good roads and bridges, and schools, after that it s all social programs used to buy votes.

    • June 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm DominionROC responds:

      The tax rates in Northern Europe are the highest in the world…yet their economies are still are among the strongest (don’t mix Northern Europe with Southern Europe…its like comparing New York with Alabama)…and EVERY “quality of life” index puts Northern Europe as the best…the happiest and most healthy in the world.

      Its not the rate of taxation which causes problem…its how the tax revenue is spent. The U.S. spends over $700 Billion for our military…Europe doesn’t.

      And attacks on Government is like attacking institutions that are the basis of a “civilized society”. It just doesn’t make sense. I cannot imagine a nation controlled by large corporations where profit and greed is the basis for ALL decisions. What a scary thought!

  12. June 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm Animule responds:

    You know a place is an economic backwater when we are talking about call centers and casinos as “job creators.” Pathetic.

  13. June 25, 2013 at 11:37 pm Orielly responds:

    Great defense. When confronted with the results of high taxes in NYS call out northern Europe.

    Ah northern europe, one of the hardest areas in the world to start a new company. And in most countries they are virtually forced to buy from same country based suppliers, not an open market.

    And OBTW those nasty companies lead by greed and profit are the main reason why you can speak freely in English today. If not for them we would be speaking either German or Japanese as we would have lost WW2.

    Those nasty companies led by greed – oh ya mean like Kodak who started and funded the UR and Strong and RIT or Xerox – can you say jazz festival?

    Perhaps we want to talk Pharma or health care industries. Yea they do no good for society.

    TRY READING some history some time. You be amazed by what you learn from Corp America

  14. June 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm Duke_Of_Utica responds:

    The best solution is to buy Time Warner stock.

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