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A state program designed to keep businesses in the city is hurting small businesses by disproportionately doling out tax breaks to large chains, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said Friday.
"Our government needs to re-evaluate how we allocate program money," Addabbo said during a news conference across the street from a Hess station on Cooper Avenue that he said receives $14,000 from the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program.
ICIP provides subsidies to businesses in the form of property tax abatements as incentives to stay in the city, provided the businesses are conducting new construction or making renovations.
Addabbo, the Democratic candidate for state Sen. Serphin Maltese's (R-Glendale) seat, said the Republican-led state Senate suppressed "multiple bills" that change the way ICIP money is allocated.
He said the program was reformed through a bill in the state Legislature in June, but he called the action "too little, too late" because the money was not tied to creating or maintaining jobs.
The councilman questioned giving abatements to large businesses like the Hess station.
"Does it really need a $14,000 tax break when small business is suffering?" he asked, noting that the city loses more than $500 million in taxes from businesses because of ICIP. "These are unnecessary tax breaks for these companies."
The councilman said $7 million in ICIP money was awarded to businesses in the district yet three zip codes — 11385 in Ridgewood, 11379 in Middle Village and 11421 in Woodhaven — recorded job losses.
He noted that a report from the Center for an Urban Future found Queens had the most zip codes with job growth in the city, including ones in Howard Beach and Ozone Park — neighborhoods in his district that are also a part of Maltese's Senate district.
Addabbo said it was "a mystery" as to why the southern part of the district has better job growth rates than the northern portion, which receives more ICIP money.
Howard Mishler, the owner of Ridgewood-based AY-Host Paper Corp., said small businesses like his are more in need of the subsidy.
"I don't get anything. I don't get no assistance," said Mishler, who joined Addabbo at the news conference. "I would like to see my business grow and prosper so the community can grow and prosper from it."
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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