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County Executive Talks Tough On Medley Centre; New Action On Public-Private Partnerships

Randy Gorbman

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks defended the good that tax and other incentives can do to encourage business growth when she delivered her State of the County address on Wednesday night. But at the same time, she told the crowd at The Strong museum that she will be at a COMIDA (County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency) meeting next week to ask board members to pass two resolutions regarding Medley Centre.

One of them would rescind a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT agreement effective May 2nd if developer Scott Congel hasn't settled his debts; the other resolution authorizes COMIDA to join the county law department in preparing legal action that would hold the developer accountable for all monies owed.

Overall, Brooks touted the success that COMIDA has achieved in creating jobs, and says that during her decade in office, 100,00o jobs have either been created or retained. 

Brooks also announced the creation of a new Monroe County Office of Public-Private Accountability. That office would review any agreement which co-mingles public and private resources. The county will launch a nationwide search for a professional director of that office.

Other initiatives Brooks talked about included a program called "The Monroe 200" where the county will ask 200 young professionals, or 'millenials,' to make recommendations on things like jobs, housing and other amenities that would help support their generation staying in Monroe County.

Monroe County Legislative Minority Leader Carrie Andrews told WXXI News after the speech that she doesn't  feel that Brooks’ plan for a new office of public-private accountability goes far enough. Andrews is concerned that since the director of that office would be part of the county administration, it would not provide enough independence.  Andrews says real legislative oversight is needed for the Local Development Corporations.

Another prominent Democrat, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, was more upbeat about the State of the County Address. She says that regardless of political party they have to be able to work together to do what's best on behalf of the citizens. Warren also was pleased that Brooks talked about a program to try and keep young professionals in the area.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.