Govt. Kathy Hochul has agreed to shell out $600 million of New York taxpayer dollars to the owners of the Buffalo Bills for a new football stadium — in addition to $250 million coming from their upstate county.
But the team’s owners are a pair of snowbirds who are largely able to avoid paying New York taxes by living in sunny, relatively tax-free Florida.
Bills owners Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim Pegula, have voted from an address in Boca Raton since 2007, records obtained by The Post show.
Critics of the heavily subsidized Bills stadium deal flagged the Pegulas with a roughing the taxpayer penalty for insulting New York state and local taxpayers.
“There’s all this political talk about people escaping New York to Florida and the need to attract people back. Yet this billion-dollar giveaway for the Pegulas rewards them for not only leaving New York but also extracting money out of our state,” fumed Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens).
Erie County is kicking in $250 million for the Bills stadium, which means state and local taxpayers are footing $850 million or a majority of the $1.4 billion construction bill.
Kim and Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn) have proposed legislation to give New Yorkers majority shares in a professional team when taxpayers are picking up a lion’s share of its stadium costs.
The outrage over the Pegulas’ making Boca Raton their hometown while building a stadium for their team on the backs of highly taxed New Yorkers spans the political spectrum.
“What you just told me is insult on top of injury,” said state Conservative Party chairman Jerry Kassar, who opposes the stadium subsidy.
There are tax benefits for billionaires like the Pegulas who reside in Florida, which has no state income tax or capital gains tax on personal filers. New York State’s top income tax rate for income over $25 million is 10.9%. Pegula’s Sports & Entertainment firm is based in Buffalo.
“This whole stadium deal is grotesque. It’s crazy. We have super rich out-of-state people who are getting massive New York subsidies that they don’t need,” said John Kaehny, executive director of the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“This is the fleecing of New York taxpayers in a rapacious way.”
The controversial Bills stadium subsidy led to a heated exchange among state Senate Democrats during a closed door caucus meeting in the Albany Capitol building Wednesday night.
Liz Krueger, the finance committee chairman from Manhattan, complained that state economic development subsidies for Buffalo have been ineffective and alternatives should be explored to try to help the Western New York region. Tim Kennedy, who represents Buffalo, told Krueger to butt out.
Terry Pegula made his billions mainly through fracking of natural gas, often in Western Pennsylvania through his company East Resources. Royal Dutch Shell bought much of East Resources in 2010 for $4.7 billion.
He then bought the Buffalo Sabers hockey team in 2011 and the Bills football team in 2014. His Buffalo-based Pegula Sports & Entertainment Group runs the teams.
In 2017, The Post reported how Pegula benefitted from an obscure tax rule that allowed him and other National Football League owners to deduct the cost of the purchase price against the team’s profits and his income for 15 years.
Born in Carbondale, Pa., Terry Pegula, 71, graduated from Penn State University with a degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering. He’s a big donor to Penn State, where he bankrolled a college hockey arena.
Pegula’s first job was at Getty Oil in Texas. His East Resources energy business was later based in Allegany, New York in the 1980s.
Pegula, through a spokesman at Pegula Sports & Entertainment, declined comment on his Florida residency.
Hochul had no immediate comment.