County puts IDAs back in business

State inaction hampered the issuing of bonds

The Schenectady County Capital Resource Corporation was approved during a July 6 committee meeting of the Schenectady County Legislature, allowing industrial development agencies within the county to once again issue tax-exempt bonds.

IDAs throughout the county haven't been able to issue bonds since the State Legislature allowed that authorization to expire in 2009.

In order to issue tax-exempt bonds a county developmental corporation needed to be established. There is no cost to the county to set up the group and the County IDA would run the group. These bonds typically help non-for-profit groups issue bonds, get debt and issue debt.

Projects funded by IDAs are an important economic tool to help increase employment opportunities and have assisted county hospitals and universities in upgrading facilities at low costs.

County officials decided to move ahead with the Capital Resource Corporation under the New York State Not-For-Profit Corporation Law because it was unclear when state lawmakers would pass an extender.

In discussions leading up to the vote, Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Glenville, said one reason for not moving forward with this plan is much of the debt is tax exempt.

In Schenectady County we already have an organization setup to do this, which is Metroplex, said Farley, who ultimately joined lawmakers in their unanimous approval of the corporation.

Ray Gillen, commissioner of economic development and planning, said Metroplex would prefer to stay in the private sector and not branch out to non-for-profit business. There is a $75 million cap on the amount of bonds Metroplex can issue, so Gillen was concerned with using the allotted amount too fast. Gillen said projects such as the General Electric Storage Battery Plant are what Metroplex would like to focus on.

Farley said he wished the cap for Metroplex were at $100 million, a proposal that was changed before the final agreement.

"Are hands are tied on what otherwise would be worthwhile projects because they create jobs," said Gillen during an interview. "Private sector investments create jobs and tax base, but we don't want to use [Metroplex] for nonprofit."

One of the projects being discussed is Rotterdam redeveloping of the closed Draper School and creating housing for disabled veterans. There have not yet been detailed discussions on the project.

"We need some kind of entity here to allow us to do these kind of civic projects," said Gillen.""

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