If the Erie County Industrial Development Agency does not act on an incentive package for Kittinger Furniture Co. next month, the Clarence Industrial Development Agency is prepared to.
That was the message from Thursday’s Clarence IDA meeting, amid the furniture maker’s plan to move from Buffalo to Clarence.
Kittinger’s request for tax breaks is expected to be on the ECIDA’s Feb. 19 meeting agenda. Clarence IDA officials said Thursday that if the ECIDA board rejects or does not act on Kittinger’s request that day, the Clarence IDA will vote on the package when it meets on Feb. 21.
The Clarence IDA board members have given every indication they support the request. The furniture maker plans to buy, renovate and expand a former roller skating rink behind Eastern Hills Mall and convert it to a manufacturing plant. The move from Buffalo’s Tri-Main Building would also put the company closer to its retail store on Transit Road.
The ECIDA is expected to schedule a public hearing in Clarence on Kittinger’s application. The company is seeking mortgage tax, sales tax and property tax breaks to support the project, estimated at $1.36 million.
The ECIDA has the first opportunity to vote on the application under a common policy between the ECIDA and town IDAs related to companies moving from the city of Buffalo to a suburb, said Nathan Neill, the Clarence IDA’s bond counsel. Neill said the policy was created in response to lawsuits over companies that left the city for a suburb like Amherst and received tax breaks.
The issue of a company receiving incentives to move from one municipality to another within Erie County has been sensitive in some cases. But Clarence IDA officials say the Kittinger project meets the agency’s eligibility requirements, and that the company visited a few potential sites in the city but did not find one that met its needs.
“The Clarence IDA is cooperating all the way,” said Paul Leone, a Clarence IDA consultant. “We have not caused any problems whatsoever.”
If the ECIDA approves the Kittinger package, the ECIDA would split the agency fee for the project with the Clarence IDA.
“When you really think about it, the only thing that the Erie County IDA would accomplish by not approving this project is that they wouldn’t share in the fee, because the project is still going to go and it’s still good for the community,” said Lawrence Meckler, the Clarence IDA’s co-counsel.
Also at Thursday’s meeting:
• The Clarence IDA chose its slate of officers for 2013, with David C. Hartzell Jr. remaining the chairman.
• Picone Construction received a six-month extension of a sales tax break for a building at 10995 Main St. The project is not yet complete, Clarence IDA officials said.