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Genesee Legislature takes aim at Cuomo proposal limiting power of local IDAs

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Legislature voted unanimously Wednesday to send a letter to Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb and State Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos opposing the governor’s proposal to limit the authority of local industrial development agencies.

“This is a statewide initiative, and we’re following the lead of the Genesee County Economic Development Center,” said Genesee County Manager Jay A. Gsell.

In his 2015-16 executive budget, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo included provisions to require IDAs to obtain approval from Albany – via the Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development – before granting state tax incentives to businesses.

The legislators and economic development center officials believe restrictions such as the ones proposed by the governor would delay the decision-making process for IDA initiatives and thwart economic development.

The letter, written by Legislature Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini, calls for the rejection of Cuomo’s plan, citing the need for the state’s 10 regional economic development councils to “be able to respond to businesses – new or existing – that want to invest in our communities in a timely manner with credibility.”

Cianfrini also wrote that Cuomo’s proposals “fly in the face of what New York is trying to become: open for business,” and “fly in the face of a ‘bottom-up’ model of economic development, which New York had been moving toward.”

In closing, Cianfrini wrote that “these proposals would make New York less competitive, centralize control of local economic development in Albany, and result in fewer jobs being created that bolster local economies.”

The Legislature also approved spending $355,000 for capital projects in 2015. Gsell said that the county’s extra 1 percent sales tax fund would pay for the projects, which include:

• A new storage and training building at the Emergency Management Services site on State Street Road, $102,000.

• Repairing the sprinkler system at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, $52,000.

• Repaving of a downtown parking lot owned by the county, $34,000.

• Improvements at the county animal shelter, $71,000.

• Acquisition of two parcels of land at the DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street for long-term right-of-way purposes and shelter renovations, $63,000.

• Software upgrades for the Civil Bureau at the Sheriff’s Office, $33,000.