The Ulster County Legislature began the restructuring of the county’s seven-member Industrial Development Agency board of directors last week. Not everyone was happy with the results. The process will probably be completed at the next legislative meeting.
At the meeting of the full legislature, minority leader Hector Rodriguez of New Paltz made a motion to change one of the members chosen by the legislature’s economic development committee on which he serves. Rodriguez moved to replace Wawarsing councilman and former legislator T.J. Briggs with newcomer Richard Jones, a retired banker from Kerhonkson. The motion passed 13-9, with the support of two legislators who have ordinarily caucused with the Republicans, Saugerties legislator Joe Maloney and Kingston legislator Brian Woltman.
According to Maloney, about ten applications in all were submitted for candidacy. Reappointed to the board were Randall Leverette of New Paltz and James Malcolm of Highland. Also appointed to the board were councilman Paul Andreassen, Daniel Savona of Kingston and Michael Ham of Kingston.
John Livermore of Saugerties, who has been on the IDA board for the last four years, was interviewed but not selected. Livermore said he was shocked by the decision, and learned that he had been replaced from an article run in a daily newspaper, rather than from legislators themselves.
“I did want to remain on the board, but unfortunately I’m not,” said Livermore this week. “When I first heard I was a little bit upset. Several different emotions came out of it. But now I’m actually relieved. It does take quite a bit of time from my family and my business in the morning. I can have some more time for those things now. Paul is great. if I’m being replaced by anybody, I’m happy that it’s Paul. I think he’ll do a great job.” Livermore said he had congratulated Andreassen.
Andreassen said he had “a lot of learn.” He was excited about some of the projects that the board is considering, including the Wildberry Lodge project in New Paltz, for which a public hearing has been scheduled at 7 p.m. on June 4 at the New Paltz High School.
“I certainly have an interest in economic development in the county,” Andreassen said this week. “I can’t say exactly how I will view these projects, but I’m hoping that my interest would be to try to get some or try to encourage viable businesses to come to the county and to be one of the folks on that committee to welcome them here and assess their applications and see if they qualify for any [Pilot agreements]. If they do, what will the terms be. Basically I’ll stick to the policies outlined.”
The seven-member board is responsible for approving tax breaks as incentives to stimulate business in Ulster County. Before the reconstituted IDA board meets for the first time on June 13, legislators will have to agree on who will fill the seventh seat on the board. Joe Maloney feels that person should definitely not be Ulster town councilman and current IDA board chairman John Morrow.
“What I think a lot of legislators were trying to do was get some new blood in there,” said Maloney. “You have a seven-member group that is given out, in my opinion, a lot of shaky tax exemptions. One of the reasons I ran was to get the IDA under control. I was a big proponent of getting Paul Andreassen on there …. I have been very pleased, and there’s one vote to go. That’s what’s going to finalize this committee, and I’m strongly opposed to John Morrow.”
Legislature chairman Ken Ronk said this week he thought the legislature disregarding the committee’s recommendation had been a mistake. “My frustration wasn’t that T.J. [Briggs] didn’t pass, but that the [Economic Development] Committee went through the process of choosing members before the legislative meeting, and that people on the committee then changed their votes,” said Ronk. “I feel like people’s words should be their bond. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. I still have my integrity.”
Ronk intends to remain legislative chairman for the remainder of the year.
– Christina Coulter