Subsidy News Whirlwind Hits NYC

New York City is ending 2010 with a subsidy transparency bang. In addition to transparency reforms around public hearings at the New York City Industrial Development Agency passed by its board in September, this week Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill, spearheaded by Council Member Diana Reyna, establishing broad changes to how New York City reports on company specific discretionary deals. Starting in 2012 New Yorkers will:

  • Have access to details on projects for the life of a deal. Currently details on projects approved before 2005 were only made available for the first seven years. Now information on the largest deals that occurred in the 1990’s and early 2000’s won’t slip out of the public’s view;
  • Be able to analyze data in an electronic format (like Excel) on the web. A regular concern voiced by GJNY over the years has been the lack of access to IDA data. While the company-specific information currently available on the EDCs website in PDF format is useful it’s impossible to truly analyze over 500 pages worth of deals without having electronic access to the data within it;
  • Know the value of land sales. When NYC sells city-owned property taxpayers should know how much it was sold for. For community members and fiscal watchdogs, knowing if property was sold at or below market rate can be a critical bit of information for analysis and/or community organizing.

And topping it off, this week the Fiscal Policy Institute released a report summarizing the value of economic development subsidies in New York State and there’s a new national state-wide subsidy tracker and other useful tools from Good Jobs First.

Of course, all these new data means there’s more work to do. Expect 2011 to be very busy year.