Tonawanda News

January 18, 2010

NIAGARA COUNTY: Wheatfield dental office offered tax break by IDA

By Mark Scheer<br><a href="">E-mail Mark</a>

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency has agreed to provide tax incentives to a Town of Wheatfield dentistry office, despite concerns raised by some of the agency’s board members.

In a 6-2 vote last week, members of the IDA’s board agreed to enter into a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Wheatfield Family Dentistry, a provider of family dental care that is looking to build a new office at 3349 Niagara Falls Blvd. in Wheatfield. The nine-member board was short one person as member the Rev. Kevin Dobbs did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Board members Rob Connolly, business agent for Laborers Local 91, and Michael Tucker, mayor of the City of Lockport, voted against accepting the application for agency assistance.

Connolly expressed reservations about such projects, suggesting they do not offer enough return on the agency’s investment. Connolly said he worried that they also could set a bad precedent, prompting dentists, lawyers, doctors and other professionals to seek tax incentives from the agency for simple office moves.

“I don’t know if we should set our parameters on doing things like this,” Connolly said.

Wheatfield Family Dentistry has been located in rental space at 3571 Niagara Falls Blvd. in North Tonawanda since its inception in 1994. The company sought agency support as it proceeds with plans to build a new 2,500-square-foot dental office at its new location, also on the Boulevard. The project also calls for the construction of a 1,500-square-feet office that will be leased to another tenant. The $690,500 project is expected to allow the company to expand its staff from five full-time to eight full-time workers within two years. IDA officials estimate the annual taxes paid on the raw land at $6,575 and said the dental office will pay estimated annual taxes totaling $22,642 at the completion of the PILOT.

The IDA’s Executive Director Sam Ferraro received a letter in support of the project from new Wheatfield Supervisor Robert Cliffe who said it would add “high quality positions” and replace a decaying property on the boulevard with a “high quality enterprise.”

IDA board members who voted in favor of the arrangement felt the same way and commended Wheatfield Family Dentistry owner Dr. Kathleen Casacci for investing money in a property that has been dilapidated for many years.

“They are taking a piece of property a lot of people wouldn’t touch,” said Board member Stephen Brady.

Board member Deanna Brennan said the agency should be supportive of any business that is looking to make efficient use of its resources and space.

“I think that’s a good business model,” she said.

Contact reporter Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250