Long Island IDAs to counter Cuomo plan to limit their power

Long Island Association president Kevin Law, left, attends Long Island Association president Kevin Law, left, attends an economic function with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Law brought Long Island Industrial Development Agencies together to counter a Cuomo plan to limit IDAs powers. Cuomo greets Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert, 2011

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Local officials yesterday said they hope to convince Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to modify his proposal to limit the power of Industrial Development Agencies.

After a 90-minute meeting in Melville, leaders of seven of Long Island's eight IDAs said they would seek a compromise that achieves Cuomo's goal of more state oversight of the agencies, which help expanding businesses, while not lengthening the aid-approval process.

If the governor's plan had been in place last year, the leaders said hundreds of jobs would have been lost at Ida-backed projects.

Those positions are at the headquarters of natural-foods maker The Hain Celestial Group in Lake Success; a division of investor-documents processor Broadridge Financial Solutions in Edgewood; and in proposed development around Long Island Rail Road stations in Wyandanch and Ronkonkoma.

"We want to work with the governor, not fight him, even though we have a lot of concerns about what he has proposed," said Kevin Law, who as president of the Long Island Association business group convened the IDA Coalition.

Cuomo, in his proposed 2013-14 state budget, called for IDA projects that receive an exemption from state sales tax to be ratified by his Regional Economic Development Councils. (Law leads the local council.) Only seven business sectors would be eligible for the exemptions.

Joseph J. Kearney, executive director of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, said Cuomo's plan would undercut businesses trying to reopen after superstorm Sandy. "We hope to offer alternatives to him that will be less disruptive to local economic development efforts," Kearney said.

In interviews, officials at the state Economic Development Council, which represents IDAs, and the Hempstead Town IDA both appeared to be more militant in their opposition to the governor's initiative.

Council director Brian McMahon said, "We're not sure there are good alternatives to what the governor has proposed."

Hempstead's Frederick Parola added, "We have to fight this; it takes the state in the wrong direction." Hempstead IDA isn't part of the coalition.

A Cuomo aide didn't respond to a request for comment.

Some officials appeared to take the issue in stride. Anthony Manetta, executive director of the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, said it "would adapt" if Cuomo's proposal becomes law.

CUOMO'S IDA PROPOSAL

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to limit the powers of Industrial Development Agencies to provide sales-tax breaks to expanding businesses. His plan would:

1. Require IDA projects receiving an exemption on state sales tax to be approved by the state.

2. Limit exemptions to seven economic sectors: scientific research and development, computer software development, agriculture, back-office operations, distribution centers, data centers for financial service companies, and manufacturing (It would bar retailers from being helped.)

3. Require businesses to pay the tax and then be reimbursed, rather than forgiving it upfront.

4. Add $7 million to the state's coffers.

Source: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed 2013-14 state budget

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