WHEATFIELD – Henry M. Sloma, who has been chairman of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for more than seven years, resigned Wednesday.
Sloma said he has a business opportunity that might create a conflict of interest with his IDA service if he pursued it, so he handed County Legislature Chairman William L. Ross a letter of resignation when Ross arrived to observe the IDA board meeting.
The resignation is effective Friday. Ross said he had no advance knowledge of it.
“I got my January surprise,” he said.
Sloma was appointed to the IDA board by the County Legislature in April 2005 and became chairman Aug. 11, 2005.
“I’m going to look into other things,” Sloma told reporters. “Some of them are commercial in nature and could create a conflict of interest.”
Sloma operates a business consulting company and said he’s been contacted by a firm that might be applying to the IDA for assistance.
“I’ve been working for the community for 40 years,” said Sloma, who has been a Lewiston town councilman and administrator of Mount View Health Facility, Niagara County’s now-closed nursing home.
He also serves on the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority board of commissioners, a post he said he will keep because his business dealings do not create a conflict with that service. He also was part of the Berger Commission, the statewide panel on the future of health care facilities in New York.
“I think I’ve given my fair share,” said Sloma, 69. “I had a birthday the other day, and I had to decide what to do with the rest of my life.”
Ross said that Sloma “really provided strong leadership. Whenever we went into these projects, every ‘T’ was crossed, every ‘I’ was dotted.”
Lockport Mayor Michael W. Tucker is vice chairman of the IDA board, but he said he doesn’t have time to be Sloma’s permanent successor.
“I’m going to be the acting chairman until they appoint someone, however long that takes,” Tucker said. “I told them I had no desire to be the permanent chairman because of the time constraints. … My No. 1 priority, of course, is the City of Lockport.”
Tucker missed Wednesday’s IDA meeting because he was in Albany to attend Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State address. He said he had no advance word of Sloma’s decision.
There are now two vacancies on what is supposed to be a nine-member board. Joseph C. Frain, of Newfane, resigned last fall and hasn’t been replaced.
Ross said he wants the County Legislature to make new appointments as quickly as possible. The chairman is actually chosen by a vote of the IDA board members.
There are no fixed terms for IDA board members; they serve at the Legislature’s pleasure. The positions are unsalaried.