Saturday, August 31, 2019

Eyes on IDAs

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that requires industrial development agencies (IDAs) "to live stream in real-time and post video recordings of all open meetings and public hearings." The video recordings must be posted online within five business days of the meeting or hearing and remain available for at least five years.

Commenting on the legislation, Cuomo said, "Industrial development agencies are tasked with revitalizing communities and fostering economic growth at the local level, but most New Yorkers don't have time to attend meetings and participate in the process. This new measure will help foster civic engagement and get more residents involved in the meetings and hearings that will ultimately have a huge impact on the future of their communities."

The Hudson IDA apparently was very active in the Urban Renewal era, granting PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) not only to industrial projects (L&B Furniture being one example) but also to housing projects (for example, Hudson Terrace), but it hasn't done very much in the past thirty or so years. In the mid-1990s, the IDA gave a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to what was then Hudson City Savings Institution for its new building at the corner of State and Green streets, known as One City Centre. That PILOT was over in ten years' time. In 2009, the IDA granted a PILOT to Evergreen Partners for the redevelopment of Hudson Terrace. That PILOT, initiated in 2010, is ongoing. In 2018, the full property tax on the apartment complex would have been $228,248. What was actually paid was about 73 percent of that amount: $167,404.

In 2015, the NYS Authorities Budget Office recommended that, because of its lack of activity, the Hudson IDA be absorbed by the Columbia County IDA. Mike Tucker, the president and CEO of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), advised against it, urging that it was "important from a public policy standpoint that the city IDA stay in business, and the city and county IDAs work together." He also recommended that the city IDA "get back in the business of financing projects on their own."  

In 2016, the city and county IDAs worked together to structure a ten-year PILOT for The Wick Hotel. During the course of ten years, The Wick pays a graduated amount of property taxes, which began with $20,000 in the first year and is increasing by regular increments until it reaches $100,000 in the tenth and final year. Since 2016, there have been no new PILOTs.

When the PILOT for The Wick was being discussed, Hudson IDA meetings were well attended. Since then, Gossips is usually the only member of the public present. The IDA board is made up exclusively of people who serve ex officio: the mayor (Rick Rector), the Common Council majority and minority leaders (Tiffany Garriga and Dominic Merante respectively), the city treasurer (Heather Campbell), the city assessor (Justin Maxwell), and the chair of the Planning Board (Walter Chatham). There is also a slot for someone representing the Hudson City School District, but no one from HCSD has wanted to serve on the IDA. For more than a year, the IDA has been seeking a qualified community member to fill the vacant position, but it remains unfilled. 

The Hudson IDA meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 1:00 p.m. at 1 North Front Street. The August meeting of the IDA was canceled; the September meeting is scheduled for September 10. In future, it seems we can look forward to watching videos of the meetings.

1 comment:

  1. The Industry Of Empire, integrated by river and rail then disintegrated by trucks fueled by an ever increasing highway tax on gas.

    We end up sandwiched between route 9 and the RR tracks and with a single goat path to the river.