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Amherst IDA approves conservative '18 budget after beating fiscal mark in '17

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency will finish the year in the black after earning more revenue than it expected from the projects it handled and after spending less on legal fees than anticipated.

And the agency's board of directors earlier this month adopted another conservative budget when planning for 2018.

For 2017, the agency had predicted it would take in $631,700 in revenues, primarily the fees the agency collects when it grants tax breaks to a new project or when it refinances an existing development.

The agency ended up taking in an estimated $720,100 for the year, during which it granted incentives to projects involving Northwest Bank, Strategic Financial Solutions and Bureau Veritas Consumer Product Services, among others, and received a payment from the University at Buffalo Foundation for a bond refinancing it handled in late 2016.

The IDA budgeted $657,350 in expenses, but ended up spending $606,200, led by $25,000 less in spending on outside counsel. That, coupled with the surging revenue, changed the IDA's budgeted deficit of $25,650 for 2017 to an estimated surplus of $113,900.

For 2018, the IDA is remaining cautious in its planning, said Steven D. Sanders, the board's treasurer. The board has a number of projects in its pipeline, but is projecting a margin of $2,400, on revenue of $600,000 and expenses of $597,600.

"I'd rather come in over budget than under budget," Sanders said. The agency experienced the latter fate in 2016, he noted.

Executive Director David S. Mingoia won't see a change in his $120,000 annual compensation, but the agency's two other administrative staffers will get 3 percent raises, their first in four years, Sanders said. Administrative costs, including payroll, would rise from $310,900 to $319,600.

Spending on outside legal fees, largely for litigation, would fall from an estimated $50,000 for 2017 to $10,000 for 2018, while the agency would cut the budget for its general counsel, Kevin J. Zanner of Hurwitz & Fine, from $20,000 to $15,000.

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