Records fail to clarify status of EDC

There is no ruling yet on whether the county’s economic development agency is a public entity that m

There is no ruling yet on whether the county’s economic development agency is a public entity that must open its books, and records from a quarter century ago do not provide a clear answer, either.

Though newspaper stories from 1984 reveal county officials and county money played a key role in the revival of the dormant entity that a year later became the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation, the county board resolution that appropriated $42,000 to launch the agency that fall defines the funding as contractual for marketing and promotion of the county.

As officials of the EDC and its real estate arm, the Crossroads Incubator Corp., continue to challenge a determination by the state Authorities Budget Office that they are public entities in non-compliance with financial disclosure requirements, ABO Director David Kidera said Tuesday that his agency will review the documents and circumstances of the 1984 formation of EDC to shed more light on the nature of the two corporations.

The county’s $42,000 contribution in 1984 constituted more than half the agency’s first budget of $82,000.

EDC officials met with the ABO Tuesday to argue their position it is a private, nonprofit corporation that performs services for local governments under contract. As such, EDC officials contend, they are not subject to the Authorities Reform Act of 2009, which requires full financial transparency.

One of the authors of that act, Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, became interested in EDC’s non-compliance after The Daily Gazette reported in late May that the twin agencies paid their top two executives about $400,000 each in 2007 and more than $500,000 each in 2008. Brodsky has issued subpoenas summoning 10 EDC/CIC officials to a June 28 committee hearing.

A Jan. 24, 1984, story in The Gazette details a joint effort between the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce led by its executive, Beverley B. Harris — wife of the late Assemblyman Glenn Harris — and Fulton County Planning Director Paul O’Connor to relaunch the dormant Community Development Corp.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors, in session that Jan. 24, discussed a progress report filed by O’Connor who listed “a series of major tasks that will eventually lead to the implementation of an economic development program in Fulton County . . . with September established as the date for the program’s start.”

It was noted at the meeting that the Community Development Corp. would operate the new economic development program and that a search committee would hire the first director — who turned out to be Robert McNary.

The county’s $42,000 matched $40,000 raised by the chamber.

A May 1984 newspaper story discusses the organization formed to plan the formation of a county economic development corporation. “The Partnership for Economic Growth” was characterized as a coalition of the chamber, the county board, the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville and the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency.

A March 12, 1984, county board resolution authorizing the county board chairman to sign the contract with the new corporation states in its first paragraph:

“The county has budgeted the sum of $42,000 for the year 1984 for the purposes of promoting and marketing Fulton County in order to attract new businesses and industries and to encourage and assist businesses and industries as well as otherwise develop and implement various economic development programs to promote Fulton County.”

Kidera has said that his agency has based its determination about EDC and CIC on more than just incorporation language. He said that the agencies perform a public mission on behalf of the county and local municipalities and are therefore public entities.

Categories: Schenectady County

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