Saratoga Springs pushes county to reconsider dropping SEDC
SARATOGA SPRINGS Saratoga Springs City Council members are urging county officials not to sever ties with Saratoga Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit organization responsible for bringing new businesses to the county for the past 35 years.
The council on Tuesday night unanimously passed a resolution asking Saratoga County to keep doing business with the private SEDC rather than forming its own public economic development arm. Though council members conceded that the resolution has no teeth, they hope it will pressure the county Board of Supervisors to end the stalemate with the SEDC.
“I have not heard anyone who’s in support of this,” Accounts Commissioner John Franck said of the county’s planned split with the SEDC at the end of the year. The SEDC has helped reel in large companies like GlobalFoundries, a Target warehouse and the Quad/Graphics printing plant.
SEDC President Dennis Brobston has said the agency plans to stay in business and continue putting together incentive packages for companies next year despite losing 25 percent of its budget with the expected loss of $200,000 in county payments.
But city officials said Tuesday that having two economic development organizations would confuse businesses and hinder city and county growth.
“Once we start dividing, we do not conquer anymore,” said Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, who initiated the resolution that the City Council passed 5-0 at its meeting Tuesday night. “I really think the city has the most to lose. We need a single point of contact in this county for economic development.”
Franck said if the county does form its own agency, the city should set aside money to work with the SEDC, something it currently does not do.
County officials announced May 1 they would cut ties with the SEDC, saying they want the SEDC to be more transparent in its financial reporting and want a supervisor to serve on the SEDC board since county tax monies help fund the agency.
But the agency has said its bylaws don’t allow elected officials to serve on the board; the SEDC needs to be exempt from open government laws in order to assure confidentiality to companies that might be looking to locate here.
Anthony “Skip” Scirocco recalled that the county Board of Supervisors considered a similar action about 10 years ago when he was a supervisor.
“At the time, the supervisors kind of came to their senses” before going through with it, he said.