WASHINGTON - The Council of Industrial Development Bond Issuers announced yesterday it has transformed itself into an association designed to appeal to a broader range of public finance officials.
The eight-year-old group has become the Council of Development Finance Agencies because "the needs of economic development agencies across the country, at both the local and state level, cover a far broader range of issues than just the IDB issue," said Joseph D. Blair, president of the organization.
Mr. Blair, who also heads the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency, was referring to the drive in Congress to renew the tax exemption for small-issue IDBS. Authority to issue the bonds expired June 30.
"There are a lot of other programs that are outside of the IDB area but are still very critical to our members," Mr. Blair said in an interview. "Our members are concerned about environmental issues, [as well as) health care, higher education, and a variety of other concerns in the nonprofit sector." The organization said in a statement that it has 110 members in 40 states.
Creating the new organization was in part an attempt to respond to growing desire among state and local governments to create multipurpose revenue bond issuing authorities, Mr. Blair said.
"We see the creation of these development finance agencies as one of the leading trends in public finance in the next decade," he said.
"There's a perception that public resources are very thin and that it's necessary to create quasi-public entities that will do a better job of leveraging public resources to bring in private dollars," Mr. Blair said.
Mr. Blair said he did not know exactly how many such issuers exist, but cited the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, the Illinois Development Finance Authority, and his own agency in Massachussets as examples.
One legislative issue that would interest the new, broader organization is the push by lawmakers to pass enterprise zone legislation, Mr. Blair said.
The House has passed urban aid legislation for expanded use of qualified redevelopment bonds in enterprise zones, depressed areas in which tax breaks are offered to start-up businesses and firms willing to relocate. The Senate Finance Committee has approved an urban aid bill that would create a new category of exempt facility bond, which would be issued to provide loans to small businesses in the zones.
"It's likely our members agencies would be the lead issuers for these types of bonds," Mr. Blair said.
Though the new agency will lobby on a wider range of issues, Mr. Blair predicted the changeover would also aid in lobbying on the IDB issue.
"We actually felt we could be more effective on the priority issue of IDBs if it was clear to everybody we had a broader set of concerns," he said.
The House's urban aid bill contains a provision that would make the IDB exemption permanent, while the Senate committee's measure would extend the exemption through Dec. 31, 1993.