Local Businesses Voice Discontent at Tax Hearings

Sep 5, 2013

In a hearing Thursday to discuss ways to reduce and reform the state’s taxes, a theme emerged:  Syracuse-area business owners say the state’s high tax burden and shrinking population make it tempting to do business elsewhere. 

The Pioneer Companies development firm has been based here for four generations, but Chairman Michael Falcone testified he’s had to branch out to ten other states.  He says that gives him a solid basis of comparison:

Senators Carl Marcellino, John DeFrancisco, Dave Valesky
Senators Carl Marcellino, John DeFrancisco, Dave Valesky
Credit Scott Willis / WAER

“The expense load, because of high real estate taxes, and energy expenses, which are very high, other than for manufacturing, probably put us in a position where our basis was 30 percent higher than any place else we’re doing business.”

But Falcone is quick to add that overall, New York has been a good place to conduct business.  He suggested forcing consolidation and allowing hydrofracking as ways to generate much-needed revenue.  He suggested that doing so would help New York State retain a key segment of the population – wealthy retirees:

Nate Andrews is a third-generation owner of Morse Manufacturing in East Syracuse, which makes drum and barrel handling equipment.  He says it’s become harder to compete with low-cost products from China and India under New York’s business climate:

“I get calls on a monthly basis from economic development people in Tennessee and Virginia, in Illinois, throughout Texas, calling saying ‘Hey, come look at our states.’  And the surprising thing is that they don’t put a package together and say, ‘Hey, come here – we’ll give you this special deal.’  They say, ‘Look at the savings you’re going to get – year in, year out, by coming here versus New York State.”

Andrews says the only reason they choose stay here is the company’s legacy with family and employees.  Still, he has some strong words of advice for the panel of lawmakers:

The state senate plans to use the input gathered at the hearing, along with information from four previous meetings, to create broad tax cuts aimed at keeping and attracting more businesses.