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March 16, 2022 - 7:54pm

GCEDC leaders back measure to help Rochester Regional Health secure $218 million in tax-exempt bonds

Officials of the Genesee County Economic Development Center are asking Genesee County legislators to consider expanding the “jurisdictional reach” of a locally controlled funding unit to facilitate $218 million in bond funds for Rochester Regional Health’s expansion projects.

Speaking at the legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting this afternoon at the Old County Courthouse, GCEDC President Steve Hyde encouraged passage of a resolution that would permit the Genesee County Funding Corp. to act as a conduit bond issuer for a business enterprise – either for-profit or not-for-profit – located in Genesee County that has operations directly or through affiliated entities in other counties in New York State.

The resolution, which was passed by the committee and forwarded to the full legislature, calls for an expansion of the “mission and public objective” of the GCFC to promote economic development and expand the jurisdictional reach by making the GCFC eligible to issue bonds for projects outside of Genesee County.

If passed, Rochester Regional Health, which operates United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia along with health care facilities in other counties, would be the beneficiary of the amendment to the GCFC’s current certificate of incorporation.

Hyde said that RRH is planning to invest $42 million in Batavia, primarily on the construction of a 105,000-square-foot medical center off Route 98, north of the city, and another $50 million or so on an expansion in Potsdam (St. Lawrence County).

“That’s almost $100 million in new money plus they are refinancing existing debt,” he said, pointing out that the issuance of the bond through GCFC would enable RRH to get a tax-exempt corporation interest rate instead of a taxable rate. “If not, they would have to seek multiple bonds in a number of communities and the fees would be much higher.”

He said RRH leadership approached the GCEDC “to use our GCFC, which is a county affiliate that we manage on your (the legislature’s) behalf.” The GCFC board consists of five members, all appointed by the legislature.

Mark Masse, GCEDC senior vice president of operations, said Genesee County has seen tremendous growth of companies with locations in other counties.

“This won’t affect the county’s bond rating,” he said. “It is similar to a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with no risk to the county.”

Hyde said RRH is focusing on the adaptive reuse of its North Street and Bank Street campuses, including expanding senior health care at the Jerome Center and possible razing a couple buildings on North Street because parking is an issue.

“And there will be more specialties at the new medical center, such as cardiac care and surgical (improvements),” he said.

Should the legislature vote in favor of the resolution, it would not change the fact that every project connected to the GCFC would have to be approved by the governing body and a public hearing would have to be held for tax exempt circumstances, Masse said.

County Attorney James Wujcik said the resolution’s wording was appropriate, adding that the expansion of the GCFC territory “makes Genesee County more attractive for investment.”

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