Resolution, Recapture Policy

By Jann Wiswall

The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency’s board met on Tuesday, Dec. 10 for its last meeting of the calendar year. Members approved a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) and approving resolution for the property at 16 Martha Street (the former American Locker site) that is being developed for seasonal apartment rentals. It also adopted a “recapture policy” that will immediately go into effect.

Board members discussed and clarified the role of the CCIDA and its actions as it relates to local municipal actions. Board member Greg Fitzpatrick, who also serves on the Town of Ellicottville Board, said he often is asked about why the IDA acts on projects before they get to the local government boards that have jurisdiction.

CCIDA Executive Director Corey Wiktor agreed that there is sometimes a “cart-before-horse” perception about IDA actions. At no time, he said, do we want “to be perceived as doing something outside of the municipality.”

To clarify, he explained that developers often come to the IDA in advance to help them decide if their project is a “go or no-go.” IDA support of a “potential” project can help developers obtain financing. If financing turns out to be unavailable, or the project is cancelled for other reasons, there is no need for the developer to start their process with a municipality.

There’s also an issue of timing. The CCIDA project approval process typically takes two or more months to complete. Developers often want to get the IDA approval process underway before the municipality gets involved to ensure that one process doesn’t hold up another.

Wiktor also noted that some people have been confused about CCIDA’s role in the SEQR process. Sometimes the IDA is designated the lead agency in coordinating a project’s mandated municipal and county SEQRs. At other times, the IDA’s SEQR is based on information provided by the developer, known as an “Uncoordinated Review,” which is used internally by the IDA to help it determine if the project is likely to have a “significant effect on the environment.” In this case, the municipality and county must do their own SEQRs.

The 16 Martha Street SEQR approved at the meeting was an uncoordinated review. The county and Village Planning Board may initiate their own SEQRs for this project.

The “Recapture Policy” that was approved by the board was created to comply with new reporting criteria established by New York State for IDAs, specifically regarding the sales tax benefit that IDAs are permitted to offer their clients.

Wiktor stated that the Cattaraugus County IDA has always kept track of its clients’ use of the sales tax benefit. However, the resolution formalizes the process of accountability and transparency and provides mechanisms for recapturing sales taxes from clients who use their exemption for purchases outside the scope of the approved project or in excess of their maximum benefit.

CCIDA Board Chair Thomas Buffamante congratulated Wiktor for being named Alumnus of the Year by Leadership Cattaraugus.

The next meeting of the CCIDA Board of Directors will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. at the CCIDA office at 3 East Washington St. in Ellicottville.