Mayor Miner consistent in her opposition to Congel’s tax breaks
by Ed Griffin-Nolan - Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Room Service anyone?

It was just two years ago that Destiny USA announced that it would not build a hotel as part of the monster mall’s expansion. This in spite of promises of such a hotel made when Bob Congel and company were pursuing another round of tax breaks.

Now Destiny is back with another hotel plan and, to no one’s surprise, another request for tax breaks. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner opposes the tax breaks. Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says she hasn’t made up her mind. The mall developer is bypassing the city and making his pitch directly to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, where Miner has little influence.

It’s hard to keep track of all the twists and turns in Destiny’s point of view, but one player in this drama has been stunningly single-minded throughout the Destiny drama.

Back in the summer of 2006, then-Mayor Matt Driscoll negotiated another iteration of the endlessly morphing tax deal with Congel for the Destiny expansion. When the Common Council, which included Stephanie Miner, rejected the Driscoll-Congel deal by a 6-3 margin, the mayor took drastic action. During the Independence Day weekend, he fired Terri Bright, the city’s lead attorney, convened a meeting of the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency and forced the city, over the legislature’s objections, to end legal action that could have put the mall back on the property tax rolls.

Not long after, Miner said: “It may be second nature to Central New York to indulge in the illusions of hope. We shut our eyes to the evil truth and listen, instead, to the songs of sirens. And in this community, we have listened to the song of sirens’ grandiose plans, ideas and flamboyant announcements. The song of the siren has convinced us to ignore other development, excoriate people who ask questions and to sacrifice our fundamental beliefs…

“. . .  I have had but one purpose: to ascertain, based on the facts alone, what is in the best interests of our citizens. {The Destiny tax deal} represents the zenith of what has become a political culture that has given away lucrative tax benefits and demanded nothing in return.”

Fast-forward eight years, and Mayor Miner, rejecting Congel’s most recent petition for a tax break, which she estimated could total $20 million, said:

Destiny already has received an unprecedented tax break worth hundreds of millions of tax dollars for promising, among other things, a bigger hotel. They should not receive additional benefits for a project they failed to deliver. Most importantly, the community will not receive any material benefits for incenting a hotel next to a successful mall.”

We have a chance to learn from and not repeat the mistakes of the past. We should not accept the principle that what is good for Destiny is good for Syracuse. The people of our community deserve a thoughtful and reasoned economic development strategy, not one that gives tax breaks without tangible public benefits and without serving any logical public policy.”

This community has for a long time held the belief that any development is good development. I don’t believe that.”

Mayor Miner consistent in her opposition to Congel’s tax breaks:

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