State audit says Albany IDA should measure goals for tax exemptions

Liz Young

Albany Business Review

Sep 28, 2018

The city of Albany industrial development agency should make sure it has measurable goals for the projects it grants tax exemptions to, an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office recommended.

The IDA's chief executive says it has already implemented the recommendations.

The comptroller's office reviewed 15 of 47 ongoing projects in 2016 the IDA had granted tax exemptions to. Of those 15 projects, 13 met or exceeded job creation and retention goals.

In 2015-16, the IDA granted $22.8 million in tax exemptions and $8.6 million in payments-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements. There were 96 reported projects in 2015 and 89 in 2016.

The IDA's net exemption per job gained in 2016 was $1,216, compared with $3,424 statewide.

"We actually perform more efficiently than our statewide counterparts," said Sarah Reginelli, the IDA's chief executive.

The IDA, at the time of the audit, did not incorporate goals into project agreements or monitor project performance for investment or revitalization goals. The comptroller's office recommended doing that going forward to ensure goals are met.

Before the audit was issued, the Albany IDA had made the changes recommended, Reginelli said.

"It really affirmed a lot of the changes that we've made as an organization," Reginelli said of the audit.

She was glad the audit acknowledged that some of the goals of industrial development agencies, such as general prosperity and economic welfare, are hard to track.

"We've done a lot of work over recent years to standardize those measures and be able to document those measures in our analysis process," she said.