KINGSTON – A “Department of Economic Development to facilitate economic growth, attract business, and increase investment and development in and for the County” was approved on a near-unanimous vote by the Ulster County Legislature last Tuesday night. Approval came after some debate, including over when the department would become official.
Democrat David Donaldson offered a “common sense” amendment to create the department effective January 1, 2020, to avoid budgetary issues for the current year.
“We have budgetary matters that are being dealt with in this and we’ll have to come back,” Donaldson said. “Otherwise, we’re going to have to appropriate money or to make some appropriation changes, so why not just make it January 1st?”
The amendment to delay the start date was defeated.
Another Democrat, Joseph Maloney, was more focused on what has become his running issue, ‘pay to play’.
“We all know why this is up; this is up because there was so many people unhappy with the direction of economic development, if you can call it a direction,” Maloney said. “It became ‘you want Ellenville millions funds, you want something from the revolving loan fund, you wanted abatement from the IDA?’ You donated and you got abatements.”
Maloney voted for the department.
Democrat Kathy Nolan cast the lone ‘no’ vote.
“I’d like to have the work that’s done for this legislature really be represented in our joining with a new executive and not trying to correct in this chamber whatever deficiencies someone claims to have with other members that are public servants.”
The department will be headed by a director of Economic Development appointed by the county executive, subject to confirmation by the county legislature.