Hotel Tax Giveaway Delayed by County IDA; Sufficient Concern on Issues of Living Wage/Local Labor/Health and Safety Sited as Concerns

Whether or not to approve tax abatements of $1.0445 million ($929,500 sales; $115,000 mortgage) for a deluxe new hotel in Ithaca, Hotel Ithaca, was delayed Friday, September 4th, as 15 members of the Workers’ Center were able to raise sufficient concern at the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) about a number of issues surrounding the hotel project. Construction of the hotel, proposed to be at the corner of Aurora and E.State/Martin Luther King, Jr. Street in Ithaca, is scheduled to start in early 2010. The hotel is billed at $27 million dollars and will be run by Gemstone Hotels and Resorts, a luxurious hotelier with locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Lake Placid, San Antonio, Lake Tahoe, New York City, etc). A cursory glance at going rates reveals the cheapest to be in the range of $250 a night for a one bedroom.

Ithaca Journal story at

While many of us can be happy about an increased tax revenue that Hotel Ithaca could bring into Tompkins County, the Tompkins County Workers’ Center also believes it is imperative that if such a wealthy enterprise is to be given tax abatements, they can also afford to pay its workers a Living Wage, as defined and updated by Alternatives Federal Credit Union every two years (presently at $11.11 with health insurance provided; $12.11 without health insurance). In fact, the sentiments of the Workers’ Center are not far off from the sentiment of both Livable Wage Policies passed by the City of Ithaca Common Council Resolution as well as the Tompkins County Legislative Resolution in 2003, representing the populace of the entire county.

Other issues brought to the table include the demand that the hotel use only nontoxic chemicals for housekeepers at the hotel; the indexing of Living Wage to inflation, and as laid out by the Alternatives Credit Union; the use of local labor; and, importantly, the contractual agreement that would make any and all such Community Benefits subject to ‘clawback’ should the developer and hotel go back on its commitments.

If you can make it to the next IDA Hearing on Friday, October 2nd at 3:30 p.m. to express your point of view, this would be very helpful, as the above-mentioned issues will continue to be ongoing issues. The IDA Hearing will be at the Old County Jail Conference Room, immediately adjacent to the County Courthouse at the corner of Court and Tioga Sts. in Ithaca (on Tioga Street).

If you live in Tompkins County, please email or call one or more of the seven (7) individuals who comprise the Tompkins County Industrial Devlopment Agency by Thursday, September 3rd, to let them know that this is not the time to give away public monies to appease a wealthy developer and hotelier that wants and needs to be in Ithaca.

Martha Robertson – Chair
T.C. Legislature
Phone: 272-0584

Larry Baum
President, The Computing Center
Phone: 257-3524

Daniel Cogan – Vice Chair
Alderman, Ward 5, City of Ithaca
Phone:(h) 273-7040; (w) 277-1118

Jeffrey Furman
Phone: 272-6394

Michael Sigler
T.C. Legislature
Phone: 339-7978

Michael Koplinka-Loehr – Secretary
Chair, T.C. Legislature
Phone: 274-5434
Phone: 257-2329 (h)

Kathy Luz Herrera
T.C. Legislature
Phone: (h) 273-8169; (cell-w) 327-2621
E-mail (primary):
E-mail (county):