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Amherst IDA mulls cutting funds to BNE

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency is thinking about cutting its financial support for the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise business development and marketing group by more than half.

The agency, which is running more than $180,000 in the red so far this year because the recession has dried up its pipeline of projects seeking tax breaks, would lose its seat on the BNE's board if it reduces its funding for the organization to $20,000 next year from the current $50,000.

"We'd like to stay on the board, but we have to be realistic in terms of our revenues," said James J. Allen, the IDA's executive director.

The funding cut is included in the agency's proposed $900,000 budget for next year, but the issue is certain to be the subject of debate when the board discusses its spending plan in detail next month.

Amherst IDA board member Randall Clark, a former BNE chairman and one of its current board members, questioned whether the funding cut was a good move for the agency.

"Are we sure we want to give up our seat on the BNE?" Clark asked. "That's the future of this organization."

Allen said the reduced contribution would bring the Amherst IDA's payments to the BNE more in line with what other similarly-sized IDAs are making. The Amherst IDA has paid the BNE $50,000 annually since the group was launched a decade ago. Contributors who pay at least $50,000 to the BNE are entitled to a seat on the organization's board.

"I'd like to remain on the board," Allen said after Friday's IDA board meeting. But Allen also said the agency's revenues, expected to be about $650,000 in 2009, are running about 25 percent below the almost $900,000 officials expected. "We're going to be way below budget," Allen said.

John P. DeLuca, the IDA's treasurer, said he expects the agency to finish the year with a "minimal loss" or roughly break even because of an expected increase in revenues during the final months of 2009.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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