Ulster County executive and IDA at odds over agency control – Daily Freeman
KINGSTON, NY – Ulster County Director Pat Ryan wants to control the county’s industrial development agency, but finds agency officials unwilling to abandon their independent assessment of requested financial incentives.
A September 8 written proposal presented to agency president James Malcolm calls for the County Economic Development Office controlled by Ryan to be given a “structured role” in the approval process for incentives such as the land and sales tax relief for commercial projects in the county. .
“Procedures will be developed to ensure the visibility of the entire pipeline of projects as they enter the IDA review, and IDA will contract with the Office of Economic Development to conduct a formal review.” and provide recommendations… on any projects that the county executive or legislature ultimately has to pass judgment on, ”Ryan wrote of the proposal.
The written proposal includes lines for the signatures of Ryan and Malcolm, which would require the Industrial Development Agency to comply with the revised rules for granting tax breaks. Malcolm has so far refused to sign it.
“The spirit of the conversation that has been going on for several months is to work in a more close and aligned manner,” Ryan said in a telephone interview. “The intention of this suggestion was that if the projects extend outside the standard IDA manual… that we just find a way to share information with each other so that we all operate from the same set of. numbers, facts and assumptions. “
The proposal was presented to Malcolm in an in-person meeting where it was discussed whether Ryan would approve the tax breaks approved by IDA for the Romeo Kia expansion project in the city. from Ulster. Ryan refused to do so, and the car dealership, in turn, promised legal action.
Malcolm declined to discuss Ryan’s proposal, but agency board member Richard Jones called it a ‘counterpart,’ saying Ryan tried to trade approval for the tax breaks of Romeo Kia against agency control.
Jones was blunt when asked about the written proposal. “Do you mean the shakedown letter?” ” he said.
“My impression of what’s going on is that there is a quid pro quo,” Jones said. “We sign the letter Pat Ryan gave us, and he will give the approval for Kia. … You could also call it coercion.
Ryan declined to comment on Jones’ remarks, but noted that by rejecting Kia’s tax breaks, he had offered to work on alternatives.
“Our Economic Development Office would be happy to sit down and explore any other assistance it can provide,” he said.
The members of the Board of Directors of the Industrial Development Agency are appointed by the Ulster County Legislature – five by the majority party (currently the Demorcats) and two by the minority party.
The agency was previously administratively controlled by the county executive office under a service contract. But in 2018, the year before Democrat Ryan was elected, lawmakers replaced the majority of members, who then failed to renew the contract.
Legislative Minority Leader Ken Ronk R-Wallkill said on Friday he initially had doubts about an independent board, but has come to believe it helps avoid partisan politics. He said the Romeo Kia issue shows how businesses can be affected by political agendas, even when five Democrat-appointed IDA board members stand up against a Democratic county executive.
“One of the goals of CIDs, in general, is that you depoliticize the process of granting tax breaks as best you can,” Ronk said. “I always thought that the more county officials put their thumbs up on this scale, the more political it became.”
Ronk said Ryan’s proposal is evidence of a “political process” in which both sides should put on their “big boy pants” and work to merge the county’s economic goals and agency practices.
“It is in the best interests of taxpayers that Mr. Malcolm and Pat find common ground,” he said. “Right now you have a really good local business that’s caught in the middle of… an ego contest. “