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County legislature votes to fund GCEDC at $213K in 2013

The Genesee County Legislature voted 5-3 Tuesday night to continue for another year funding GCEDC to the tune of $213,000.

A motion by Legislator Ray Cinanfrini to cut funding by $100,000 unless the GCEDC board declines to pay out bonuses to employees for 2012 failed with only Frank Ferrando and Marianne Clattenburg supporting the proposal.

The motion came after a 90-minute session that included a presentation by GCEDC CEO Steve Hyde about the work of the industrial development agency, a closed session on pending deals and personnel and, finally, a discussion on Cianfrini's motion.

"They're going to pay incentives," Cianfrini said. "They're going to pay incentives, I'm told, out of money other than what we put in for operating expenses, which tells me, they have the money available to pay those incentives. The question arises -- do you need our taxpayer dollars to fund your operation?"

That was exactly the point Hyde made during his presentation. He said that while profits (flowing through the GCEDC's sister nonprofit corporation, the GCLDC) help fund GCEDC's operations fund, the $213,000 provided by county taxpayers is critically important to the GCEDC balancing its $1.2 million operating budget.

Hyde said the money provided by the county helps pay base salaries and is not used for incentive bonuses. The bonuses are paid entirely, he said, out of revenue generated by GCEDC/GCLDC projects.

In 2012, the agency worked on 33 projects that represent $223 million in investment and the promise of 400 jobs, Hyde said.

Since 2003, GCEDC can tally 335 projects, $820 million invested and 3,500 pledged jobs.

Projects that received waivers on property tax increases since then now account for $3.5 million of property tax revenue in the coffers of various government agencies and in 10 years that total will exceed $6.4 million.

The money from the county, Hyde said, can help "remake our community and region and put money back in people's pockets."

Cianfrini's motion received support from two of the City of Batavia's three representatives.

Ferrando said there is no doubt Hyde and his team have done a great job in bringing business to the county and creating jobs, but the problem with the bonuses, he said, isn't about whether they're deserved, but with the political perception by residents.

"There is no way that I can honestly say that the people I represent can seperate what we give to the GCEDC from the bonuses and from the salaries," Ferrando said. "It just isn't going to happen. I don't think that's fair. I certainly don't think it's fair for Steve because he's sitting hear dealing with an issue he shouldn't have to deal with. But as long as that money is tied that way, I don't think there is a public relations program out there will be able to convince them them differently. "

From Clattenburg's perspective, GCEDC just hasn't done enough to help the City of Batavia. She noted that according to census figures, one-fifth of the city's residents live below the poverty level and she doesn't see Hyde and his team doing enough to generate revenue and jobs in the city.

"My territory is counted in streets, not acres, and I walk those streets and I see what the income level of my neighbors are, what their houses are worth and some areas are poorer than others," Clattenburg said. "A long time back you guys had a strategic vision for this county and it's been fulfilled to its hilt. We see it all around us.

"But somewhere along the line this strategic vision did not include us. We represent 25 percent of this county's population in just five miles, so it would be nice to see the governor here."

Ed Dejaneiro, who also represents the city, said that while he agrees there needs to be a break in the perception that taxpayer money is being used to fund bonuses for GCEDC staff, contractional obligations might prevent the board from paying bonuses for 2012.

"There are a lot of very good arguments that were made with respect to public funds and how those public funds are given and how we're looked upon as contributing to incentive payments instead of the nitty-gritty operational or project monies," Dejaneiro said.

"It's hard for us to justify with the public how this money is being spent, but I think the long and short of it is that we like what they're doing. It's a successful agency and it's one that depended on that $213,000 that we were going to contribute."

Legislator Esther Leadley, Robert Bausch, Shelly Stein and Mary Pat Hancock all spoke against Cianfrini's motion to cut funding.

Leadley said there is a false perception floating about that all of the county residents are opposed to the county giving money to GCEDC and the bonuses paid to Hyde and the rest of the staff.

"There is this implication that all of the legislators have received an enormous amount of push back on GCEDC," Leadley said. "I have not. I have heard from some people, but it has not been an absolute rush to condemn this."

Leadley said that executives from the Quaker-Muller yogurt plant have told her that a key factor in PepsiCo picking Genesee County for their facility was that Genesee County and the legislature had "skin in the game," by making a financial contribution to grow the local business community.

Bausch compared Clattenburg's experience with his own. He said when he walks around his community he passes the buildings of two companies that would not have businesses in Genesee County now if not for GCEDC.

"I've heard from constituents on both sides," Bausch said. "When I hear from the negative side, my answer has always been the same as it is now. I wish the bonuses paid were three times the amount because that would mean we had three times the jobs for our community."

Stein, who is the legislature's representative on the GCEDC board, said that it is the business community that creates the jobs that make it possible for government to function, therefore it is critical for the legislature to support GCEDC.

Hancock made the most impassioned defense of GCEDC.

"The particular investment that we have in this organization, one for 16," Hancock said. "One dollar for 16. Do the math. We need skin the game."

She also defended Hyde from some of the public attacks he has been subjected to over the past few years.

"We're always talking about the people who go away to make money and be successful," Hancock said. "We've got somebody here from our own county, from the Batavia School District, that went away, came back and became a big tiger. He's a big dog in his particular area. Where's the pride? That is super. That is super."

UPDATE: Point of clarification, Legislator Annie Lawrence was unable to attend the meeting.

Kevin Squire
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I don't dispute that these people are doing their jobs.......and they are paid very well for doing it.. I think the problem here is the outrageous bonus pay for these people in the past in an economy that is terrible. If one of our legislative rep's can justify the county donation after the bonuses are released for this year to GCEDC, I will be willing to listen!!!!!

Frank Bartholomew
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I have applied at both yogurt plants to no avail. With 30 years exp. in the food and beverage industry, I thought I would have been a good candidate to hire. As usual, I sense age discrimination.
No bonus for anyone at GCEDC, and no more tax dollars.
How about a disclosure from the plants spelling out their hiring practices.
About the only thing I see happening with the yogurt plants is driving up the cost of dairy products due to the demand on raw milk.

John Roach
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If you live in the City 4th or 5th wards, time to think about getting rid of Ed. DeJaneiro next year.

Kyle Couchman
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Why is that John, he seemed to be in support of what we "city dwellers" are saying about GCEDC I think its time to vote Mary Pat, Shelly Stein, Ester Leadly and Robert Bauch. Had I not been in Rochester last night I would have gone to this meeting and made my comments yet again. Seems that the vial solution of setting aside the money and having them apply to the ways and means for it on an as needed basis wasn't even considered. This option would have satisfied both sides talking points while giving us taxpayers who's opinions seem to be inconsequential to 4 of our legislators some peace. If Robert Bauch wants to give 3x the amount of bonuses to GCEDC and says there is no support for limiting their money I think that makes me mad enough to go door to door in his area of the county and actually get the facts.

I mean unemployment is higher this year than last year, despite these "new jobs" brought to the area so in actual numbers how have they succeeded? Seems like business as usual.

John Roach
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Kyle,
The GCEDC did not need that money to operate. We give them money, they give bonuses. Mr. DeJaneiro voted to continue the practice and I think he needs to be replaced.

I'll give credit to Mr. Ferrando for standing up against this. No secret I have not been a fan of his, but he stood his ground this time.

Lori Silvernail
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It is the GCEDC’s JOB to bring jobs into our county. It is also the JOB of all county workers to save money as best they can by doing their jobs well. If the employees of GCEDC receive bonuses just for doing their JOB, shouldn’t everyone whose job is even remotely funded by taxpayer dollars receive a bonus, too?
What will happen without those bonuses? Will Steve Hyde and all of the GCEDC employees suddenly slack off? In my opinion, let’s try NOT paying the bonuses and see what happens. If they don’t do their jobs without the bonuses, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be willing to take their places and work for their base salaries and benefits.
Saying that the bonuses come from a different account is pure garbage and we all know it. Maybe the legislature is being fooled, but most of us in the public are NOT. Let the people who pay the taxes vote on this. The legislature does not represent MY opinion. Kudos to Ray Cinanfrini, Frank Ferrando, and Marianne Clattenburg for at least trying to do what the people would want.

John Roach
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Howard,
It seems that GCEDC already has the money for the promised bonuses for 2011 and 2012. Are they saying the $213K we give them this year is for bonuses earned two years ago. And if we did not give them the money, the bonuses would not be paid? That would mean we are directly paying the bonuses out of property taxes.

And if DeJaneiro asked a question and did not get an answer, he should have demanded that the issue be tabled until he got the answer, or voted no.

Lisa Falkowski
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As a tax payer I am mad as hell! It makes no difference to make that they offered a $100K cut from the proposal.

Mark Potwora
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Leadley said there is a false perception floating about that all of the county residents are opposed to the county giving money to GCEDC and the bonuses paid to Hyde and the rest of the staff.....According to the poll today on the Batavian 78% in this county think so...Mr.Leadley should be more about representing what the people want and not what Mr.Hyde wants...Thanks to Mr.Ferrando,Mr. Cinanfrini and Ms.Clattenburg for trying to stop this madness...

Mr.Hyde's comment that since 2003, GCEDC can tally 335 projects, $820 million invested and 3,500 pledged jobs seems like alot of BS...What does 3500 jobs pledged mean..How many real new jobs were created in that time frame..Not jobs that were moved from one part of the county to another ...Example is moving UMMC's physical therapy dept from the hospital to out side the city to the MED TECH Park. This is not a project or a job created..There are many examples of this that GCEDC considers a project....How many taxpayers dollars have been used in that time frame to create a job..

John Roach
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The GOP leadership has had a "hands off" policy towards Ed, who is a Democrat. Heck, he's a more dependable vote for the Republicans than members of their own party. Don't expect them to do anything. It would have to be a Republican who is not a GOP committee member, but a regular registered Republican, or a Democrat who wants to run a primary.

bud prevost
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As I see it, the taxpayer is being told "f**k you" by the legislature, we as the legislature will do as we please, regardless if 4 out of 5 constituents oppose taxpayer funding for this smoke and mirror show.

Kyle Couchman
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I called a few legislators today, very interesting results. From what I gathered they are really getting hammered by local media on this GCEDC issue. I have a feeling this is gonna blow up quite a bit before it goes away. I think that this could become quite the issue around Batavia for some time. This is not the only facet where there is questionable practices either with the GCEDC. Steve and his cronies seem to feel entitled and have a good ol'e boy network mentality going within this county. Look at Mary Pat's own statement at the end of the article....

"We're always talking about the people who go away to make money and be successful," Hancock said. "We've got somebody here from our own county, from the Batavia School District, that went away, came back and became a big tiger. He's a big dog in his particular area. Where's the pride? That is super. That is super."

It's not so super Mary when out of one side of his mouth Steve and GCEDC scream from the media mountaintops how they are making incredible amounts of money. Then out of the other says he needs our taxpayer money to meet his basic pay, while sliding obscene bonuses almost exactly in the amount we give each year. The a good idea comes up, dont give them the money, set it aside and have them come to ways and means and show/document/demonstrate need for these taxpayer monies. The give it to them. We will have documents then to show taxpayers and reassure them the money isnt being wasted, and we'll have documentaion. Which we get little to none of from them. Just verbal reassurances that things are going to happen. Some of which in todays reported numbers from county employment dont jive with what the GCEDC tells us....

There are 30,200 people working in the county, the DOL reports, which is up from 29,700 a year ago; however, the unemployment rate year-over-year went up from 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent.

The state counts 2,300 unemployed people in the county for October 2012 and 2,200 a year ago.

There were 30,300 people employed in the county in September 2012 and the unemployment rate that month was 7.1 percent.

Meanwhile Steve Hyde's BASE salary is significantly higher than the NYS Appellate Court's highest paid Judge. And you cant tell me that the Judge isnt 10X busier than Steve Hyde.

bud prevost
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From Seethroughny.org:

2011 salary for Governor Andrew Cuomo $177,474
2009 salary for Steve Hyde, CEO of the GCEDC, $199,259

What is wrong with this picture? Apparently, Mr. Hyde feels justified in asking the legislature to pay his salary, while retaining the right to collect outlandish bonuses because of jobs saved and created.
I don't begrudge Hyde taking what he can. Afterall, isn't that what America's all about? Get as much as you can, for as long as you can, and screw everyone else.

And as for no pushback from constituents, I plan on calling Shelley Stein to express my disappointment in her not doing the right thing. And I would suggest anyone else who is displeased should also contact their representative legislator. The number to the county office is 585-344-2550, extension 2202. If you are truly pissed at the government's continued funding of this entity, put your money where your mouth is and call!

Mark Potwora
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Bud i've made the same point over and over to all that would listen...When Steve Hyde makes more than Governor Cuomo something is wrong....Ms.Hancock is either blind to these facts or feels indebted to him for something...I can not believe that Mr.Leadley has not heard any complaints on this issue...None of those legislators that voted to keep funding the way it is representing the people of there district,but instead listen to what Mr.{ i make more that the Governor} Hyde says.....

Robert Brown
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Who is the advertising genius who authorized bonuses of any sort within the last decade? He/she should be summarily fired. Period. Bonuses for any public employee for anything is hogwash. Lori hit the nail on the head - do your job and get paid, don't do your job and lose your job.

There is not a single public employee in Genesee County worth more than $100K per year. Not a one.

There should be NO public employees collecting pay/benefits for more than 8 years total in their lifetime. We need to put an end to career public employees and regain fiscal responsibility for our citizens.

Bud, Mark, and others are right on and the reported data (there is the very real possibility that true unemployment is higher than reported as people may be unable to claim or have not yet claimed while they are burning vacation pay, severance, etc...) validates them. Let's try employing people who actually lower the unemployment rate and increase the tax base. Let's try electing people who are willing to represent the people and lower our expenses.

Barbara Hendershott
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I work for Genesee County and I do a great job. Might I be expecting a bonus?.
Thanks Ray, Frank, and Marianne for standing up and speaking out!!!!

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