State legislators will hear the voice of the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency as it joins the New York State Economic Development Council's chorus of support to revive civic facility bonding legislation.
Members of the agency's board of directors gave Corey Wiktor, the director, authorization to participate in the council's IDA Education Day lobbying effort Feb. 24 in Albany.
Legislation that allowed industrial development agencies to issue tax-exempt bonds for college, hospital and nonprofit projects expired more than a year ago. According to IDA officials, this has stalled about $2.3 billion in improvement projects needing that assistance.
"We're going to discuss it with state legislators to show them [civic facility bonds'] importance," Wiktor said.
In Cattaraugus County, the tax breaks aided expansions of Olean General Hospital, Jamestown Community College, St. Bonaventure University and the Parent Education Program.
"It's a real blow to economic development and growth in Cattaraugus County," and a "handful" of nonprofit agencies could now use this mechanism to move forward, Wiktor said after last week's meeting, noting that state lawmakers have reached an impasse over the legislation.
A revival bill proposed by Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, mandates unionized labor and a living wage, which would negate the incentives offered by civic facility bonds, Gregory Fitzpatrick, a board member reported.
After the meeting, Wiktor said he expects the State Legislature to resolve the question in April after the state budget is passed.
On another issue, Wiktor said he recently discussed wind farm projects before about 50 people during the New York State Economic Development Council's annual conference in Albany.
Wiktor's methods include ongoing outreach to taxing authorities and the county IDA's pending creation of a committee of representatives of taxing authority that will divide payments-in-lieu-of-taxes. They have become an IDA Best Practices Model for wind farms in the state. Wiktor said this has resulted in several follow-up calls from other IDAs and economic development groups.
On a related topic, Wiktor noted he attended a presentation by acoustics expert Charles Ebbing on wind farm noise last week in Allegany.
"Wind power has hit an economic storm" and requires such an enormous amount of upfront capital that the financial problems now outweigh the issues regarding taxing authorities' participation in PILOT agreements," he said.