IDA faces new reporting requirements

JOHNSTOWN – State lawmakers are imposing new reporting requirements on industrial development agencies that provide for additional “bureaucracy” and “administrative work,” local IDA officials said Thursday.

Some of the new ways such agencies must handle internal matters were discussed by the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency board at the Fort Johnstown Annex.

IDA Executive Director James Mraz informed his board of new reporting for IDAs. He said amendments were made to state General Municipal Law and state Public Authorities Law.

“The [state] Legislature this past session adopted some new requirements for IDAs,” he said.

Mraz said the amendments translated into several reforms on how IDAs provide state and local sales and use tax exemption benefits.

He said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has wanted to take back IDAs’ control over granting companies sales tax exemptions. He said Cuomo wants the state to control that. But Mraz said the governor “backed off on that,” but in the process of making other changes “piled on some bureaucracy.” He said the Fulton County IDA will have to deal with such changes the next time a sales tax exemption request is made for a local project.

“It’s a lot more administrative work,” IDA attorney Kara Lais said. “It’s a lot more oversight for the companies.”

Mraz provided the board with a list of a dozen new IDA requirements. Some of the new requirements relate to private sector jobs, sales tax reporting, recapturing benefits and retail project exemptions.

For example, no financial assistance will be provided by IDAs for any project where the facility or property constitutes more than one-third of the total project cost. Retail project exemptions will include a tourism destination project or a project in a highly distressed area. IDAs must keep records of state and local tax exemptions provided to each project and make such records available to the state tax commissioner on request.

IDAs also are required to recapture state sales tax benefits awarded to a project that is in excess of amounts authorized, or in are for property or services not authorized.

New policy

In another internal matter, the IDA board approved a new Discretionary Funds Policy, as recommended by its Governance Committee.

“It’s pretty standard,” Lais said. “I just wanted you to have it.”

Mraz said the state Authorities Budget Office now requires public authorities to adopt such a policy to ensure funds “only be expended for purposes that advance an authority’s mission and objectives.” He said the ABO offered a model policy for authorities to use, and he drafted the IDA’s policy based on the model.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at