- By Dominick Recckio
A resolution to change the composition of Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) member-filed by Legislator Anna Kelles (D-Ithaca) passed unanimously (14-0). Kelles referenced the outpouring of interest from the public in this action, stating "This is to uphold and expand the intention of the IDA to create local jobs." Kelles acknowledged the collaboration. Legislator Anne Koreman stated, "A silver lining to this pandemic is it has put everything back on the table. Think, 'what if we were starting the IDA now,' it would make perfect sense for labor to have a seat at the table." Union leaders and public advocates for local labor joined privilege of the floor to express their support for the resolution.
This resolution removes one legislature seat from the IDA, replacing it with a seat designated for a representative from local labor. The resolution as it was passed does not require New York State approval.
Legislators debated a substitute resolution raised by Legislator Mike Lane (D-Dryden) to expand the IDA to 9 members. Legislator Deborah Dawson (D-Lansing) challenged the motion suggesting that it would need State-enabling legislation. County Attorney Jonathan Wood clarified his position that State statutes need to conform with law stating that IDAs need to have between 3-7 members and that it would take State-enabling legislation to expand the IDA. The substitute failed 3- 11, with Legislators Rich John, Mike Lane, and Martha Robertson voting in favor.
Legislator Rich John (D-Ithaca), who serves as the current Chair of the IDA, clarified that he has seen the IDA respect the input of local labor, expelling the notion shared by community members that the IDA does not listen to or represent the perspectives of Labor.