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Lockport IDA backs ads against reform Aims to join campaign opposing Hoyt package

The Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency plans to take part in a prospective advertising campaign to try to beat back IDA reform legislation in Albany.

The campaign against what is sometimes called the Hoyt IDA reform package, after Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, is being discussed by IDA groups across the state.

Town IDA Executive Director David R. Kinyon, who also is the town's economic-development coordinator, said at a meeting of his agency Thursday that the model for cooperation is a nine-county IDA consortium in the Genesee Valley-Finger Lakes region.

The plan would include television commercials "to raise public awareness of the contributions of IDAs." Kinyon said no price tag on the advertising effort has been set so far, but he has discussed having the town IDA take part, along with the Niagara County and Erie County IDAs.

Hoyt's bill did not pass in previous Albany sessions, but now the Democrats are in charge of both houses of the State Legislature. Kinyon said that because of this, "There is heightened concern about the legislation passing and becoming law this year."

Identical bills have been introduced in both houses, Kinyon said. In the Senate, Sen. Antoine M. Thompson, D-Buffalo, is the sponsor. His district includes Niagara Falls, as does that of Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, a co-sponsor.

The Hoyt-Thompson bill would require companies applying for IDA aid to include in their application, and in a signed contract after project approval, promises about the wages they intend to pay their workers.

The law also defines an IDA-backed project as a public works project, and thus the state wage laws on such projects are in effect.

Construction workers would have to be paid prevailing wages, and employees of the company receiving the IDA aid would have to be paid the median wage for all occupations in their area during the term of the IDA aid and for five years after the incentives expire.

The bill says an IDA cannot aid a project unless there is proof that the project would not have been carried out without IDA incentives. It also requires that every project create new jobs, not merely retain existing ones.

Town IDA board member Thomas Sy denounced "mandatory prevailing wage [laws] and, even more insulting, the living wage for privately owned business."

Kinyon also told the board he is proposing creation of a town development corporation, which would allow the town to assist businesses with loans, as well as with IDA tax breaks.

The corporation also could help fund the IDA's operations, which would enable it to get around some of the strictures in the proposed IDA reform package, Kinyon said.

The town would rely on a state community development block grant to set up the revolving loan for the corporation, Kinyon said.

Several IDAs have development corporations that make business loans, including the Niagara County IDA.

That agency uses the IDA board as the board of the Niagara County Development Corp., but Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman said of Kinyon's idea, "In all likelihood, this wouldn't be IDA-run. It would be an independent board."

He said Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith has asked for more information about Kinyon's idea.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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