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JCIDA to pay more than $35,000 to furnish new headquarters

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WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency is expected to pay more than $35,000 to furnish its newly built headquarters, which will include a custom-built conference table.

Though some furniture will be used from the agency’s current space, board members learned Thursday that most of the desks, chairs and cabinets will be bought to furnish the facility at the Watertown Center for Business and Industry, 800 Starbuck Ave. Workers are expected to finish construction of the 4,563-square-foot facility, next to the agency’s current space in Building B, by the end of the month. The space, designed and built for a total of about $530,000, is more than twice the size of the agency’s current location. It includes an outdoor canopy, nine offices, a conference room of about 500 square feet, a reception area, a break room and a meeting room for clients.

During a tour of the facility Thursday, board members decided the agency should spend more to purchase a custom-made conference table for the boardroom, instead of a less expensive one. The board gave the agency permission to hire Peter S. Curtis, owner of Evans Mills-based Curtis Furniture Co., to build an 18-foot-long cherry conference table for about $12,000.

The agency already owns a similar table, built by Mr. Curtis, in a Building B conference room. That room is available to rent by the Watertown Industrial Center, owner of the corporate park. But Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the agency, said he was advised by a furniture consultant not to move that table, as doing so could damage it.

“We were advised that when you take apart tables to move them, they sometimes don’t go back together correctly. Once you start taking them apart, it becomes a problematic situation,” Mr. Alexander said, adding that the agency might offer to sell the table to the WIC.

In July 2013, the JCIDA struck a deal with Mr. Curtis to forgive loan debt he owed. Mr. Curtis, who did not return a call Thursday, paid a lump sum of $75,000 to settle a $94,000 loan principal owed to the agency. That principal was owed from two $125,000 loans made in 1988 and 1990.

JCIDA recently hired a furniture consultant, Design Specialists of Syracuse, to assess furniture needs for its new space, Mr. Alexander said. It received bids from three furniture suppliers: Sustainable Office ($28,559), Furnishing Solutions ($30,007) and W.B. Mason ($35,521). But those proposals each included a cost of about $5,000 for a premanufactured conference table, which the board decided not to buy.

The agency likely will spend about $25,000 on other furniture in addition to the conference table from Curtis Furniture, Mr. Alexander said. JCIDA’s facilities committee will meet this month to decide which supplier will provide the furniture, including desks, chairs and cabinetry.

During the meeting Thursday, board member W. Edward Walldroff advised Mr. Alexander to hire Mr. Curtis to build the table.

“We could do this for $30,000, but I think we should jump it up so that we can do it with Peter’s table,” he said. “Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot with this final stage of the project.”

Board member Donald L. DiMonda said the agency should be willing to spend more on furniture, based on its quality.

“I think one of the most important considerations is the length of time furniture is going to be used — 25 to 35 years is a long time,” he said. “You may have to pay more because it’s going to need to last a long time, even though I’m reluctant to spend the money.”

Though board member Michelle D. Pfaff agreed the agency should hire Mr. Curtis to build the conference table, she urged Mr. Alexander to be cautious about how much is spent on other furniture.

“We do need to be careful with our money, because it’s public money, and we have that perception,” Mrs. Pfaff said.

The WIC agreed to finance the buildout of the agency’s new headquarters. The Jefferson County Local Development Corp. lent the WIC $350,000 to pay for the construction. The JCLDC will lease the facility from the WIC at a rate of $13.25 per square foot, or $5,100 a month. The agency’s abandoned office space is expected to be leased by the WIC to a new tenant.

Capital Construction, Watertown, is the general contractor for the renovation project. The facility was designed by Aubertine and Currier Architects, Engineers & Land Surveyors, Watertown.

The following business items also were addressed during the meeting:

The JCLDC board agreed to use $352,709 in leftover funding from the now-dissolved Jefferson County Job Development Corp. to establish a fund for costs associated with the development of the corporate park at Watertown International Airport, off Route 12F in the town of Hounsfield. The agency recently has spent about $180,000 to acquire parcels needed to expand the park’s footprint. The JCJDC, which led marketing efforts for the JCIDA since 1994, was dissolved last year and replaced by a marketing council that does not have governing authority. The vote to dissolve JCJDC was at the request of the JCIDA, which restructured its subagencies to comply with a ruling made by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in February 2012. According to the ruling, employees who worked for nonprofit subagencies of the JCIDA did not work directly for the IDA; as a consequence, their state pension rights were revoked. The employees now are enrolled in a 401(k) profit-sharing package to which the agency contributes.

The board also approved a five-year, $200,000 loan to help finance a funding package for Carthage Specialty Paperboard that includes participation from multiple agencies. Last month, the Development Authority of the North Country’s board of directors approved a six-month, $1 million line of credit to provide funding for to the company at 30 Champion St. in the village of West Carthage. To pay off that line of credit, DANC has agreed to contribute a loan of $200,000. Loans also will be sought by DANC from the North Country Alliance ($225,000), the village of Carthage ($100,000) and the newly launched North Country Economic Development Fund ($275,000). As the lead agency, DANC plans to collect loan payments from the company and then pay off debt owed to other entities.

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