The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agencys board of directors approved a plan Thursday to establish three committees to replace its now-defunct local development corporations, or LDCs.
The marketing, manufacturing and agriculture development councils will perform the same function the LDCs did under the plan, but as a part of the JCIDA they will no longer have the authority to approve their own decisions.
Members who served on boards for the Jefferson County Agriculture Development Corp., Jefferson County Job Development Corp. and manufacturing committee have been asked by the agencys staff to serve on the new committees and are expected to fill those roles, said JCIDA Deputy CEO David J. Zembiec. New committees are expected to start meeting in September.
The boards have always looked at work done at the committee level for guidance, and well continue to have the same people involved, he said.
The agencys streamlined structure had to be in place for JCIDA employees to remain eligible for inclusion in the state retirement system. The 12 employees pension credits were revoked in a ruling by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in February that claimed the staffers dont work for the JCIDA but for LDCs, which have the legal standing of nonprofit organizations.
Mr. Zembiec added members serving on the new committees and IDA staff members will now have more time for their work because they wont be required to send as much paperwork to the state. Before, all LDCs had to submit separate paperwork to the state because they were each viewed as separate entities.
Dissolving the JCJDC had already been a topic of discussion before the state comptrollers ruling.
With all of the states compliance issues, our board members were spending a lot more time with administrative issues and less time getting private-sector input on our programs and services, he said.
A disadvantage of launching committees instead of LDCs, however, is the marketing committee wont be able to continue the JCJDCs business membership program, which was the agencys marketing arm. Because it had nonprofit agency status, the JCJDC was allowed to accept membership fees while the JCIDA cannot.
The only thing were going to miss now is our private-sector membership, said JCIDA board Treasurer Michelle D. Pfaff, who also served as a board member for the JCJDC. The agency had about 100 members, she said, that contributed annual fees from $25 to $150.
We need to cooperate and still keep the businesses involved through work from the councils, she said.
She said all three committees will continue to develop and promote events such as breakfasts, workshops and speaker programs for the business community.