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Local lawmakers agree on middle ground on Metroplex

The Schenectady County Legislature and Republican leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have agreed on the terms of a bill that would raise the Metroplex Development Authority bond cap from $50 million to $75 million before the close of Legislative session on Monday, June 23.

Susan E. Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature said the tentative agreement was reached on Wednesday, June 4, after a nearly two-hour meeting of the county Democratic caucus.

The County Legislature then passed a home rule message at its meeting on Tuesday, June 10, accepting two Republican amendments brought forward by Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna.

The amendments to the bill would bar party chairpersons, county legislators and managers from serving on the Metroplex board.

The Republican amended bill also bars state legislators from serving on the board.

The amendment does allow the county's top economic development official, who is now Ray Gillen, to serve on the board.

Gillen is chairman of the Metroplex board and would keep that post under the current legislation.

Earlier this year, Gillen said that Metroplex needed to raise its bond cap to continue its economic development program in the county. In addition to raising the bond cap, the bill also extends the life of Metroplex by five years.

Gillen said this extension would help Metroplex pursue certain bonds with longer payment periods.

Republicans agreed that the bond cap should be extended, but they would not sponsor the bill without the amendments.

Farley said the amendments are an attempt to remove politics from Metroplex activities.

It makes sense that state and county legislators are prohibited from serving on the board since they also oversee it, said Farley.

Farley said the Senate would likely pass the amended bill within a week of county's adoption of the home rule message.

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said the Senate's amended bill would also be introduced in the Assembly.

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