The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency granted a 10-year, $4.25 million tax break on March 11 for the planned 128-room Hyatt Place hotel to be built in downtown Niagara Falls by the Hamister Group.
In addition to IDA tax breaks, the Hamister project, if built, will receive $3.85 million from state taxpayers through Empire State Development Corp. and be able to purchase from the City of Niagara Falls, 310 Rainbow Blvd., for $100,000. The parcel was appraised for more than $1.5 million.
Combined, the Hamister Group will reap around $9.4 million in taxpayer help for the planned hotel.
The purpose of the IDA is to give tax breaks in return for job creation.
When Hamister made its application with the IDA, Hamister Vice President Daniel Hamister signed an affidavit on Jan. 26 that the hotel would create six full-time and 29 part-time jobs.
At the IDA meeting, Susan C. Langdon, IDA director of project development, told the board that Hamister said the application was not correct. It should have read "35 full-time equivalents."
Which is not to say there will be 35 full time jobs.
The term "Full time equivalents" is often used when there are low wage part time jobs. It is calculated by combining the number of hours worked by all part time, full time and contracted labor in a business and divide that by 40 - - the number of hours in a normal full time work week - and that is the number of full time equivalent employees.
In other words if you had two part time employees working 20 hours per week - it would equal one full time equivalent.
But who knows if this is the last and final number.
Full time job numbers reported to be created by Hamister have shifted several times.
In February 2012, USA Niagara, Empire State, and the City of Niagara Falls announced in a joint press release with Hamister that his hotel would create 130 full time jobs.
In July 2013, the same group in another press release said the number of full time jobs at 70.
This is all a matter of public record.
Considering the public investment planned for this project, the roller coaster ride of purported Hamister jobs speaks poorly of the planning from the beginning.
Feb. 2012 - 130 jobs.
July 2013 -70 jobs
Jan. 2015 - 6 full time, 29 part time.
March 11, 2015 - 35 full time equivalents.
At the IDA meeting, chairman Henry M. Sloma said he'd like to see that (latest) job promise in writing. That's a good idea since Hamister stands to gain $4.2 million from the IDA courtesy the Niagara County taxpayers.
IDA policy says that if a recipient of tax benefits doesn't deliver on job creation promises, the IDA can revoke the tax breaks.
And Mr. Sloma, may we recommend you make the job creation language in the contract iron clad.