A tentative deal was reached Wednesday to pass a bill raising the bonding authority of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority from $50 million to $75 million.
Under the compromise between the Democrats who control the county Legislature and the Republican state legislators representing Schenectady County, county and state legislators would be barred from serving on the Metroplex board.
The bill would also bar party chairpersons and county legislators and managers, with the exception of the county’s top economic development official, who is now Ray Gillen. Gillen is also chairman of the Metroplex board and would be able to keep that post under the current legislation.
Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the county Legislature, had proposed barring all elected officials from the board, which the Republicans said went too far. Bill Sherman, chief of staff to Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said the ban on county and state legislators makes sense because they have power over the Metroplex Authority.
Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said the bill would have to be amended on the Senate floor to reflect the proposed change. Tedisco would then introduce the same bill into the Assembly.
Savage said the county Legislature would plan to pass a home rule message on Tuesday requesting the amended state legislation. At that point, the state Legislature could act on it, and all those involved said they hope that action will come before the June 23 scheduled end of the state legislative session.
Gillen has said the increased bonding authority is needed so that Metroplex can keep funding economic development projects. When Metroplex was originally created 10 years ago, Farley had proposed that it have $100 million in bonding authority, but that number was halved in the course of negotiations with the Assembly.
Savage met with the Republican legislators Wednesday morning and met that evening with members of her Democratic caucus in the county Legislature. The meeting was still going on after an hour and 40 minutes at 9:40 p.m., when Savage reported that a majority of her colleagues supported the deal and that she expects the home rule message to be passed by the county Legislature on Tuesday.
This year’s legislation has had a tangled history in a short time period. Farley first introduced a bill at the request of the county Legislature raising the bonding authority to $75 million.
Tedisco and Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, declined to sponsor that bill, suggesting a $60 million bond limit instead, along with requirements that Metroplex members have economic development expertise and that the county Legislature make appointments to the Metroplex board in a timely manner. Tedisco and Amedore also suggested delaying the legislation until the ongoing state comptroller’s audit of Metroplex is completed.
Tedisco and Amedore dropped those conditions, but they and Farley came up with the amended bill barring political and other county officials from the board.
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