Recently the County of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency (IDA) made the decision to enact a pause on new applications (with the exception of a few carve backs) until March 1, 2022 in order to …
Recently the County of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency (IDA) made the decision to enact a pause on new applications (with the exception of a few carve backs) until March 1, 2022 in order to allow time to review their 13 Uniform Tax Exemption Programs (UTEPs).
The decision has been met with some, shall we say, backlash from local agencies, business leaders and town officials stating that they believe it sends the wrong message and implies that Sullivan County is “closed for business.”
While we can appreciate that perspective and the experience and knowledge of those offering that opinion, we are of the mindset that the IDA made the right choice.
So much has changed in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, let alone in the almost decade and a half since the IDA last reviewed their UTEPs.
It needs to be done at some point and in the midst of the pandemic and with winter upon us, the timing seems right.
The last review process, which did not enact a pause on new applications, took close to 18 months, according to the IDA.
Setting a March 1 deadline also creates a sense of urgency to get this done in a timely manner.
At last Thursday’s meetings of the County Legislature, IDA Executive Director Jen Flad said the committee responsible for the review of the UTEPs has already started meeting and that, so far, they haven’t had to turn any applications away because of the pause.
Oftentimes the IDA receives criticism – warranted or not — for just awarding benefits. So you’d think them deciding to review their policies would be met more positively.
But sometimes when difficult decisions are made, you can’t win, no matter what you do, in the realm of public perception.
As of now, at least in our view, it seems things are on schedule and we commend the IDA for taking the time to review their UTEPs and for being committed to completing it by March. (If it isn’t done by March then we can certainly revisit our opinion of the matter).
Pause or no pause, we remain optimistic about Sullivan County’s future and that our bucolic locale, as well as agencies working hard to attract new development, will continue to usher in new business moving forward.
And speaking of public perception, we would hate to be an agency trying to attract new business to Orange County – where three corrupt members of their IDA were recently arrested, charged with self-dealing and concealing conflicts of interest, and sentenced to pay more than $1 million in restitution to the county.
Talk about bad public relations.
And lastly, the Sullivan County IDA has routinely received excellent audits from the New York State Comptroller’s office. Keep up the good work, Sullivan County IDA.
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