Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 8, 2013

Yahoo deal better than no deal

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Yahoo’s expansion in the Town of Lockport is secured thanks to a 20-year package of property tax and sales tax breaks that will save the Internet giant a reported $30 million over the life of the abatement.

For Yahoo’s part, the company has promised to invest $170 million in a second phase on its campus in the Town IDA Park, expanding the Yahoo data center, adding a new customer call center, and creating 115 jobs by doing so.

The 320,000 square-foot expansion includes a larger parking lot and a utility substation, leading some to believe that Yahoo has even further plans for Eastern Niagara County. In fact, many IDA board members suggested that the reason they were approving the tax abatement was because they hoped it would lead to more development later.

Some Niagara County taxpayers feel that Yahoo is getting too sweet a deal at their expense.

Margie Swan of Cambria said “a multi-billion dollar corporation doesn’t deserve all these tax breaks.” 

In a sense, we’re inclined to agree with Swan. We’d prefer that everyone paid full rate. After all, most local business owners pay their taxes in full and on time year after year. So why should a new business — and one with a great deal more resources than most Niagara County businesses — get a break?

The answer is simple. Because if we don’t give them the break they’re asking for, they’ll go somewhere else — and we won’t get anything in return.

To ignore the fact that we live in a global economy in which Yahoo could set up shop anywhere is foolish. To pretend that something is not better than nothing would be irresponsible of our representatives on the IDA board.

Negotiation is common practice in the business world. For those that say they want government to be run like a business, this is a perfect example of them doing just that. The Yahoo deal is the best deal they thought they could get. So they took it knowing it was better than nothing.

To those that say we’re losing money in the deal, we’d be remiss in not pointing out that every tax dollar we get from Yahoo is a tax dollar we would otherwise be collecting from the rest of Niagara County taxpayers. 

True, we may not be getting as much as we’d like, but we’re getting more than we’d be getting if the land at the IDA Park in the Town of Lockport remained vacant. And that doesn’t even take into account the jobs created from the construction of the facility and the 115 jobs they’ve promised to add to the payroll. 

The math says that those jobs “cost” us $260,869.57 each. But you can’t lose what you didn’t have to begin with. And in the Yahoo deal, we feel we’re winning more than we’re losing.