Metroplex head sees error in jobs data
SCHENECTADY COUNTY A state comptroller report on the 2007 performance by the city of Schenectady Industrial Development Agency contains erroneous information, according to Schenectady County’s top economic development official.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s report said projects supported by the city IDA saw a net loss of 59 jobs in 2007 and each job lost cost $9,084. The city IDA was one of a handful of IDAs in the state to report job losses, according to the report.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority, said the city IDA’s job creation for 2007 should be higher and should show a net gain in jobs created.
Gillen said that Omni Management underreported the number of jobs involving One Broadway Center, a building it owns on Broadway.
“The current jobs reported there in 2008 equaled two, according to the report. We know this is an error as [New York state] Lottery, Racing and Wagering, GTECH and others are in the building,” Gillen said.
Gillen said the report should have indicated the creation of approximately 500 jobs at the building, which would have cast a more favorable light on the city IDA’s performance in 2007.
“If the Lottery building was reported correctly, we would be in good shape. We will ask Omni to report correct figures,” Gillen said.
A spokesman from Omni did not immediate return a phone call for comment.
DiNapoli issued a report in late February that criticized the job creation efforts of the state’s 115 industrial development agencies in 2007, the most recent data available.
The report said IDAs created 4,130 projects in 2007 compared to 3,813 projects in 2006, yet the total number of jobs created declined by more than 2,000 and the cost to create a job increased from $4,195 in 2006 to $4,527 in 2007. IDAs provide local, state and sale tax breaks to businesses.
DiNapoli said that based on the report’s findings, his office will increase oversight of IDAs and will suspend IDAs from offering state tax exemptions if they fail to meet reporting requirements. In 2008, DiNapoli suspended nine IDAs.
Schenectady County is served by three IDAs: the city of Schenectady IDA, the Schenectady County IDA and the Rotterdam IDA. Metroplex administers the city and county IDAs for a cumulative annual fee of $20,000. The Rotterdam IDA is independent of Metroplex, one of the few economic development agencies in the county with the distinction.
Jen Freeman of the state comptroller’s office said the numbers in the report come from audited statements provided to her office annually by law. She said IDA data is self-reported and is reviewed but not audited by the comptroller. If an IDA fails to report, the comptroller can suspend an IDA’s ability to offer state tax exemptions until the report is filed.
Some of the projects are carryovers from prior years, Freeman said. She said the number of jobs that are created is based on an agreement between the company and the IDA.
“The jobs created may be over a given period of time,” she said.
According to the report, the county IDA created 2,507 jobs in 2007, at a cost of $671 per job. The Rotterdam IDA created 1,304 jobs in 2007, at a cost of $942 per job. Freeman said the cost-per-job number indicated efficiency. “A lower number means in a situation such as this the benefits they provided were less than the cost to create the jobs,” Freeman said.
The comptroller’s report indicates the number of projects, their total worth, the amount of exemptions granted to them by the IDA, the sum of payment in lieu of taxes agreements granted to them, the estimated jobs to be created, the number of jobs before IDA action, estimated net job gains and cost per job.