Squabble kills Clifton Park economic development fund
CLIFTON PARK A Clifton Park organization designed to create jobs and expand the town’s tax base has decided to close up shop rather than continue to battle with the state Authorities Budget Office.
The Clifton Park Industrial Development Authority Economic Development Fund submitted a request last week in state Supreme Court to dissolve following a unanimous decision by its board at the end of April to terminate operations. If the group is dissolved, its remaining $210,709 in funds would be transferred to the Clifton Park IDA, which formed the spinoff organization with a $350,000 investment about four years ago as an easy way to provide loans and grants to businesses.
The brief run has ended following a prolonged disagreement with the state ABO about reporting requirements, said fund Chairman James Angus, who is also vice president of Saratoga Economic Development Corp., which contributed to help set up the fund.
On April 2, the economic development fund was officially censured by the ABO for not complying with a year’s worth of ABO requests for documents. The ABO argued that it had regulatory oversight of the fund. Fund officials disagreed with that interpretation and still do, but Angus said they didn’t want to continue to fight.
“It was clear that [ABO Director David] Kidera wasn’t going to stop,” he said. “We didn’t think it was in the best interest of the citizens of Clifton Park to fight the ABO.”
While the Clifton Park IDA will continue to carry out the fund’s mission of job creation, Angus said it is more burdensome for the IDA to make loans than it was for the fund. He noted that this is one of the main reasons the fund was formed.
“It’s unfortunate, because you lose the opportunity to do things efficiently,” he said.
Kidera said Tuesday that his office has never advocated for the dissolution of an authority but noted that they never oppose this option. “We always encourage entities that do not have a recurring public purpose or outlive their current purpose to consider dissolution,” he said.
The state ABO oversees about 570 authorities, of which about half are local development organizations.
Regarding groups that don’t feel like they fall under the oversight of his office, Kidera said: “When they fight us ... the logical option is to dissolve.”
Angus said the economic development fund has no current projects under consideration but argued that it served a valuable role in its short existence. He pointed to a fiscal and tax-base analysis of the town and a $100,000 grant to the Clifton Park Water Authority as some of the accomplishments of the fund.
There is some overlap between the fund’s board and the Clifton Park IDA’s board, but Angus said there were no plans to fold the other fund board members into the IDA’s board.
He added that there were no plans to give the money to the SEDC, which will have a $200,000 hole in its budget next year due to the county severing its financial relationship. He said the SEDC couldn’t fill the same role as the economic development fund.