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County officials urge city to move on Concordia project

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort issued a letter to the Amsterdam Common Council and Mayor on Wednesday urging them to move forward with a proposal made by Mayor Ann Thane on Monday to provide approximately $500,000 in funding to construct sewer and water main lines to the future site of Concordia Senior Communities. Under the proposal, the city would borrow the money to construct the lines and set up a special district which would charge an additional tax on the property to offset the loan payments. Once constructed, the city would also reap both Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) revenue and water and sewer fees.

Alderman Ron Barone and Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler both expressed opposition to the deal due to concerns about the city’s finances. Referring to the fact that Concordia had chosen to work with the county development agency rather than the city’s, Hatzenbuhler said, “Let them deal with it, financially we can’t afford to deal with it right now.” Referring to Ken Rose, CEO of the Montgomery County Business Development Center, Barone said, “Why can’t Ken come up with the money?” At one point, Barone indicated he was willing to walk away from the deal. However at the end of the meeting, Barone said “If it’s done right, I have no problem with it.”

The letter from Ossenfort did not name any individuals, but urged city leaders to stop “squabbling” and work together. Excerpts from the letter include:

An economic development project of this magnitude must be embraced with enthusiasm and nurtured through collaboration to project completion…

We all need to be mindful that what happens in the City of Amsterdam, good and bad, reflects on all of Montgomery County…

Developers are constantly exploring new markets and additional opportunities and take notice of the attitudes of particular communities when deciding to invest their capital…

This $30 million project is the largest private sector investment and job creating initiative in the City of Amsterdam in years. This project is designed to provide 162 units of senior housing, create 116 permanent jobs, more than 200 construction jobs and increase the real property tax base…

I am urging you to make every effort possible to end these ongoing disagreements, help this project get off the ground in a timely manner and send a message that the City of Amsterdam is truly prepared to move forward. The future of our entire county will no doubt be brighter if you do.

Read the full text of the letter here.

On Thursday, Ken Rose, CEO of the Montgomery County Business Development Center commented on why he thought is was important for the city to participate in the project. He pointed out the successful investments the county made in the past in building infrastructure used by Target, Hill & Marke’s, Beech Nut, Daim Logistics and LS Veneer in both the Florida and Glen industrial parks.

Rose said, “The county invested in the development of the parks with the understanding that it would take some public investment in order to leverage private investment.”

“We felt that the City of Amsterdam would understand the basic concept and what it takes in order to bring a private sector project to fruition. Additionally, as we worked with [Concordia] through our industrial development agency on the project, we felt what a great opportunity to bring the city in and have them take part in this project with the investment in off site water and sewer that would be needed.”

“I thought by including the city in some way in one of the largest private sector investment and job creating projects they’ve seen in years that it would send a strong message to other developers that the city is moving forward and will partner with developers and businesses looking into invest in the city,” said Rose.

Rose said he still hopes to partner with the city, but is preparing an alternate loan for the project in case the city decides not to invest.

About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of AnthemWebsites.com LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

6 Responses to County officials urge city to move on Concordia project

  1. Why should the City of Amsterdam be involved in loaning money to a private corporation? I am wondering why the County Executive is not working with the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency instead of trying to get the municipality to essential provide the function that AIDA should be providing. There is already a PILOT in place as well as a sales tax exemption and a one million dollar economic development grant awarded in 2013. Whether or not they provide additional funding, the city will still benefit from both the water and sewer fees. The municipality should stay out of this project. It is a product of the Montgomery County Business Development Center and should be handled by them through either Montgomery County IDA or Amsterdam IDA. With respect to the Aldermen’s reaction to the information presented at a special meeting called by Mayor Thane last Monday morning, the Councilmen were blindsided with the project information as no written agenda was provided them beforehand as required by city regulations covering special meetings (Chapter 15-2 ).

    • Tim Becker says:

      The meeting on Monday was a committee meeting, not a regular or special meeting. It was clearly announced as such. There were no resolutions put up for vote. So Chapter 15-2 has no bearing on this. Committee meetings are the appropriate place for new business to be brought up before it goes to a vote.

      • There is no “Committee of the Whole” listed anywhere in our charter. The only Council meeting the mayor is allowed to call is a special meeting of the Common Council and that is exactly what it was. Come on Tim, you’re better than that!

      • Tim Becker says:

        You make me lol Jerry 🙂 The term “committee of the whole” is referred to in chapter 15-4 of the city code. Jerry I’ve been covering the common council for a year now and there have been several “committee of the whole” meetings, and none of the other council members ever voiced a problem with it.

        You make some very elaborate excuses for the council member’s unprofessional behavior 🙂

      • Tim Becker says:

        I will agree, there could have been a few more days notice. The request went out on the 23rd. Enforcement of committee meeting rules could be tighter. Ed Russo has failed to notify the press (neither I or the Recorder) twice this year in regards to committee meetings he has scheduled. Should I ascribe “nefarious” intentions to him as well? (I don’t by the way.)

  2. I stated there was no “Committe of the Whole” listed in the Charter and that statement still stands. Whoever came up with that name should really re-think that decision! In an case, it’s just semantics. A quorum (3 or more) of Aldermen, constitutes a Council meeting and NYS Open Meeting Law is in play. The real point is there are established rules that elected officials must follow and reasons for those rules, which could have prevented the reactions and soundbites printed in the Recorder and the subsequent ill feelings all around. NYS Open Meetings Law was established to keep transparancy in our government, to keep citizens informed. When elected officials attempt to ignore or bypass that law because it isn’t convient, or they want to go home to a hot dinner, it is a slap in the face to the general public, whose rights the law was created to protect. Ditto to you on the eloborate excuses to protect the Mayor’s unprofessional behavior! I can’t believe she of all people made a statement about city officials treating others with “respect and professionalism”. Oh, that’s right she was only referring to potential developers!