Board member questions IDA’s 2015 budget

Marlette seeks transparency
by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor
Deputy Supervisor Guy Marlette said Monday that he would be submitting a letter to the Town Board this week regarding questions about the Amherst Industrial Development Agency’s recently released 2015 budget.
Marlette said he believes the Town Board is obligated to review and comment on each IDA budget as a way to create transparency.
He said the IDA’s budget, which was submitted to the Town Board in September, does not offer a breakdown of the pay and titles of each of the IDA’s four employees. Additionally, Marlette said employees of the IDA do not contribute to their health care, which is something he would like to see changed in the future.
“The breakdown of positions is relevant. People should understand what people at the IDA are being paid,” Marlette said.
In a draft of the letter, which Marlette said he would use to craft a resolution, he said that although the town does not directly fund the AIDA, the organization is basically funded by the revenue structure from the projects it approves.
“It should be noted that while the projects it funds increases the overall tax revenue for the town through new development and redevelopment, the Town of Amherst does not receive the full value of the tax revenue for several years, so we certainly have an interest as to how taxpayer funding is used,” Marlette said in the letter.
Jim Allen, executive director of the AIDA, said it is possible to add more details in the organization’s future budget summaries, however, such a determination would be left up to the discretion of the AIDA’s board.
He added that the AIDA uses a private market to purchase the health insurance, noting that “nothing in the state’s law gives the Town Board authority” to oversee the AIDA’s budget or health insurance, unless the IDA is being funded by the Town of Amherst. Allen said that because the AIDA does not receive any funding from the Town of Amherst, the town does not have that authority.
“I am also offended that the press saw this letter before I did,” Allen said.
He said copies of the IDA’s recent budgets are available to view online at www.amherstida.com.
Marlette said he would be submitting details of his review of the IDA’s 2015 budget so that it may be discussed during the Town Board’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, in the Council Chambers at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.

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