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Metroplex projects spending $7.1M for 2013

Thursday, October 18, 2012
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— The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority met Wednesday night and approved a proposed $7.12 million budget next year that includes no raises for staff and a personnel change to better improve compliance with the state.

The budget includes revenues totaling $8.19 million, with revenue earned from sales tax receipts as one of its more notable increases. The economic development agency receives half of a percentage point of the county’s 4 percent sales tax, after towns and villages divvy up 30 percent of that half point.

Metroplex operating expenses for next year total $1.07 million. The economic development agency currently has a staff of 4.5 employees. Although no raises are planned, the board approved an approximate $100,000 bump in personnel expenses for a change that would help the agency better comply with the many reports it’s required to file to the state Authorities Budget Office.

A part-time secretary position would be eliminated and replaced with a full-time “compliance officer,” said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen. The change is designed to ease the time constraints of the current staff in keeping up with the compliance requirements of the state.

The state office released an audit of Schenectady County’s economic development agencies earlier this year that criticized Metroplex for providing inaccurate, conflicting or incomplete records during a 2011 review.

The office’s deputy director for compliance and enforcement faulted Metroplex for drawing out the review process by not showing how it financed certain projects or which ones were still ongoing.

After the 24-page report came out, Gillen told the Gazette that the Authorities Budget Office’s initial report was so flawed it incorrectly criticized Metroplex for failing to redevelop what are now the $38 million offices of the Golub Corporation.

The two agencies tangled over several other components of the audit process, but Metroplex ultimately complied with 12 of 15 recommendations in the audit and stated it would consider the rest.

Personnel costs are budgeted at nearly $695,000 for next year, an increase of more than $100,000 of this year’s projected cost.

“For every year’s budget, our revenue numbers are very conservative,” said Metroplex Executive Director Jayme Lahut. “We list them a little bit lower and our expenses a little bit higher to be safe. It’s a cautious budget, and we’ve never had a problem with it.”

The board approved the budget, which was first reviewed by Metroplex’s fiscal audit committee.

Other actions:

• The board approved a state environmental quality review that found the recently announced Mexican Radio project at 325 State St. would have no significant effect on the environment. They expect to hold a public hearing on the project in about two weeks, so they can move the project forward for consideration in November.

• After bids for façade improvements at the Adirondack Trailways station came back higher than expected, the board approved a grant increase of $30,000 so that work can begin on the project and wrap up before next year. Metroplex is providing a total $80,000 matching grant for the project, which will renovate the exterior of the bus station at 22 State St.

 
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