Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m.: Tompkins Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Holds Vote on Granting Tax Subsidies to Proposed Marriott Hotel in Downtown Ithaca

The Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is voting Wednesday evening at a 6:30 meeting on whether or not to grant a property tax abatement to the developers of the proposed new Marriott Hotel to be built at the east end of the Commons. The City of Ithaca has recommended the project under a new policy that no longer takes wages or environment into consideration, only location, height and increase in assesed value.

The IDA Public Meeting will be held tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the Tompkins County Courthouse’s Legislative Chambers (2nd floor). PUBLIC COMMENT WILL BE ALLOWED AT THE MEETING, to exceed no more than 3 minutes.

Most members of the IDA are elected officials, so we hope that they will listen to comments from the public. We need to tell them that it’s not real economic development if it doesn’t produce Living Wage jobs. We can also address environmental questions and diversity in hiring.

Please feel free to contact people on the Tompkins County IDA to express your concerns:
* Martha Robertson
* Larry Baum
* Grace Chiang [
* Will Burbank
* Jim Dennis
* Svante Myrick
* Nathan Shinagawa

Some talking points, please put in your own language if choosing to communicate to IDA Members via email:

* While many of us can be happy about an increased tax revenue that the Marriott Hotel on The Commons in Ithaca could bring into Tompkins County, the Tompkins County Workers’ Center also believes it is imperative that if such a wealthy enterprise–that projects its hotel to make a profit of $2.9 million in the first year–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 $11.67 with health insurance provided; $12.78 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.

* The developers, Urgo Hotels, evidently are promising to pay Housekeepers at 156% of the minimum wage (which would be $11.31), but promises to pay Food and Beverage workers starting at $8.00/hour, and front desk people at $10.00/hour. While the promise is commendable with regards to Housekeepers, it is not stated in the Application to the Industrial Development Agency, and we need to make sure such standard of 156% is written into the Agreement FOR ALL WORKERS, not just Housekeepers.

* Local labor should be used, which we are defining, in consultation with the Building Trades Council of Tompkins/Cortland Counties, and the International Brotherhood of Workers, as meaning 75% of the workers building the hotel should be from Tompkins County and any of the immediate surrounding counties, which includes Cortland, Cayuga, Schuyler, Chemung, and Tioga Counties.

* Demand that the hotel work to insure diversity throughout all levels of staffing, not just in lower-class positions.

* Contractual agreement that would make any and all such Community Benefits subject to ‘clawback’ should the developer and hotel go back on its commitments.