Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 2nd, 2014

Filling IDA Seats

The Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) will once again take center stage within the next few weeks as the legislature begins interviews to appoint two new members to its board.

If you are interested in becoming a board member – You should immediately contact IDA chairman Ira Steingart or your legislator.

The IDA is one of the most misunderstood organizations servicing Sullivan County in part because people find it very hard to understand. Board members are continually attacked for awarding tax abatements and incentives to businesses – but that is their job.

IDA’s and similar type agencies operate throughout our country. It is a win win for any host community to attract businesses with incentives in order to create jobs and economic development.

Allegations of impropriety are constantly hovering over the IDA. Innuendos that board members and their attorney partake in sinister questionable business practices are erroneous and pure nonsense. Whether popular or not, IDA attorney Walter Garigliano is brilliant and he fully understands the law.

Even though Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently found our IDA needed improved ethics disclosure and better reporting on disclosing conflicts, our IDA should be a role model for other plagued IDA’s that operate throughout New York State.

The IDA which has continually been raked over the coals by critics upset over tax abatements they award has passed the grade by state auditors in overseeing projects and penalizing companies failing to meet employment benchmarks.

Every business deal has its critics and its supporters.

People need to understand that IDAs are public benefit corporations authorized by the Industrial Development Agency Act of 1969 and governed by the provisions of Article 18-A of the General Municipal Law. Sullivan County has several non active IDAs.

The purpose of an IDA is to promote, develop, encourage and assist in acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining or equipping certain facilities, thereby advancing the job opportunities, health, general prosperity and the economic welfare of the people.

IDAs have enormous power in granting tax abatements and bonding. While mission statements and laws adhered to by IDAs have not changed, interpretation has. IDA’s were established thanks to a special act of the State Legislature to assist in economic growth.

Real property owned by the IDA is exempt from property taxes and mortgage recording taxes. Purchases made in support of approved projects are eligible for exemption from state and local sales taxes. They can directly issue debt.

To make matters even more confusing, The Sullivan County Funding Corporation (SCFC) is a Local Development Corporation that has a mirrored board of the IDA.

The SCFC was formed because federally created bonding opportunities arose as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. One program was Recovery Zone Facility Bonds (“RZFBs”). These bonds were allocated by the Federal Government to counties based on unemployment and job loss. Sullivan County was allocated approximately $1.2 million in RZFB issuing authority. The County needed to form a qualified issuer for RZFBs and thus the inception of the funding corporation.

A local project received a strong expression of interest for purchase of RZFBs. SCFC was formed soon thereafter. The entity did not succeed.

The SCFC went dormant for months as there was no project that required continued organizational efforts, until the Center for Discovery wanted to refinance.

The SCFC was not formed solely to assist not for profits. The reason for organizing it was to issue bonds which would have benefitted for-profit businesses.

The Legislature appoints members to the IDA, while the County Manager appoints members to the funding corporation because it is a Local Development Corporation (LDC).

The legislature cannot legally appoint members to the LDC because they are elected. In all practicality the legislature is still in control. The county manager works and reports to the legislature, so one would assume he would abide by their wishes.

The annual funds from the Millennium project are now in SCFC hands. My research finds the very purpose for which LDCs are organized is to run loan programs such as the Millennium, so it makes more sense to have it run by the LDC.

Both the IDA and SCFC have ultimate goals of economic development and job creation. Combined they can offer a broader range of benefits. Both can provide certain tax abatements to qualifying projects, although LDCs cannot provide real estate tax abatements.

Steingart as its chairman is said to be focusing more on helping small businesses. But all the major talk remains on big business such as the Concord, Davos, Apollo, and the Kutsher’s projects.

The IDA is responsible for a food hub coming to Sullivan County and the Red Meat Plant.

Hopefully the legislature will fill the two vacant seats with people who have the compassion and understanding of bringing proper economic growth to Sullivan County and are not connected to the self serving political “Old Boys Club.”

The IDA website can be viewed at

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in THE SULLIVAN COUNTY POST.

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