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SARATOGA SPRINGS: Council endorses IDA reform

The Spa City is not the only municipality in the Capital District to take this step. The Albany Common Council joined Saratoga Springs in backing a call for reform of industrial development agencies at its May 21 meeting.

Connolly derided what he perceived to be the Saratoga County's Industrial Development Agency's (SCIDA) lack of openness.

"IDA meetings are not well publicized and IDA hearings are not readily accessible to the public," he said.

SCIDA officials declined to comment before press time, citing a lack of information on the statewide push for reform, but according to the organization's literature, the SCIDA has assisted 60 companies in their location and/or expansion plans that resulted in the investment of more than $700 million in new plants and facilities within Saratoga County since 1979. Over 5,000 new jobs have been created with an additional 3,000 jobs retained as a result of the SCIDA's assistance. These jobs represent an annual payroll of approximately $200 million. SCIDA client companies include manufacturers of paper products, chemicals, cans, silicone products, industrial energy control systems, precision valves, windows and doors and many other products. The agency has assisted small start-up firms as well as national corporations. The SCIDA has sponsored a convention center, corporate offices, research and development, hydroelectric generating facilities and, most recently, independent and assisted-living communities for senior citizens.

Some of the reforms that state lawmakers are pushing for are enforcement of penalties for businesses that do not meet agreed upon job retention and creation goals, and giving the public greater input in industrial development agency projects through public hearings and community impact reports.

Keehn, in the city's proclamation, also said she would like to see an increase in the transparency of industrial development agencies by giving the public access to IDA tax information.""

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