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Mayor critical of local agency

King says CRG lacks transparency

October 3, 2012
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Mayor Dayton King says the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth lacks the transparency it claimed it would have.

The CRG, formed earlier this year, is the parent corporation of the Economic Development Corp. and Crossroads Incubator Corp., both of which have been in existence for years.

The EDC manages revolving loan fund programs, while the CIC serves as a real-estate development and management company.

CRG officials previously said the new structure would increase transparency and improve coordination of activities between the two groups.

The mayor said in a news release this week that based on the meetings he's attended, high-level updates are given in public session and most of the work is done in executive session.

"They may have achieved a better coordination between the two groups, but still lack in transparency," King said. "I encourage the Fulton County supervisors to attend these meetings and ask more questions. A county liaison to attend these meetings is a must."

The CRG's president disagreed with the mayor's assessment.

"When we go into an executive session, it is because we are discussing an issue that can't be brought to the public at this point," said CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese. "Once things are solidified with an outside business, it will be brought to the public in a press conference."

King said in his news release the CRG maintains it's a private entity but has used city money to pay for its staff and continues to ask the Fulton County Board of Supervisors for money.

"Receiving public money ... makes you responsible to your shareholders, in this case the city of Gloversville and Fulton County," the mayor stated.

King wants the CRG to turn over a loan fund to the city so the city can loan money to local businesses. He said the city would be able to maintain the loan pool using the Community Development Agency Board of Directors and two existing staff along with members of the city finance department.

The city allowed the Fulton County EDC to manage the loan pool and approve loans for small businesses in Gloversville years ago. Today, the loan pool has 14 separate loans totaling more than $1.5 million and a cash balance of approximately $940,000, the mayor said.

A total of almost $2.5 million sits in the hands of the CRG, King said.

The largest loan was made from the EDC to the CIC for $750,000 for the Estee Commons apartment project. The stipulation made made from the EDC to the CIC was they would start paying this loan back once Estee became profitable. To date, no payments have been made on the loan, the mayor said.

The mayor criticized the center at the group's board meeting last week for taking too long to answer the city's request for the loan pool. He said people in the city want to reopen, expand or start small businesses, and the loan pool would provide more places to dine, shop and work.

Reese said the loan-pool agreement has been sent to the city attorney.

"If the city agrees to the changes we discussed, this should move along quickly," said Reese.

King also said in the news release the loan pool would provide increased sales tax for the city and county, while potentially decreasing homeowners' property taxes.

"The county of Fulton has great potential for economic activity and I hope we can work together to make this happen," King said.



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