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State censures Clifton Park economic unit over secrecy

Development fund rejects data release

April 9, 2013
Updated 10:53 p.m.
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— The state Authorities Budget Office has censured a Clifton Park organization that works to promote jobs and strengthen the local tax base, saying it is a public entity and is required to release financial information.

The budget office has been requesting information for more than a year from the Clifton Park Industrial Development Authority Economic Development Fund, but fund board members and their attorney say the organization is not a public agency.

Budget office Director David Kidera officially censured the fund in an April 2 letter to IDA Economic Development Fund Chairman James Angus; the letter was released to the press Tuesday.

In the letter, Kidera tells Angus that the budget office may take legal action to force the IDA Economic Development Fund to comply and also may disclose the censure under federal securities law, potentially hindering the fund’s ability to get financing in the future.

Angus maintains the group doesn’t have to give its financial statements to the state.

“We disagree,” he said Tuesday.

According to the budget office letter, it requested documents in February 2012, March 2012 and January 2013, saying that the fund is a local authority defined in the state Public Authorities Law and is required to make its financial statements public.

“As a public authority, Clifton Park IDA Economic Development Fund, Inc. is expected to be timely and transparent with its financial reporting and to be accountable to the public,” Kidera writes. “This letter of censure is the result of the board’s collective failure to take appropriate corrective action when the authority was previously warned that it was out of compliance.”

The Economic Development Fund was created in 2010 by the Clifton Park IDA and the Saratoga Economic Development Corp. The IDA contributed $350,000 from its surplus to establish the fund.

The fund’s board of directors is made up of three members from SEDC and two from the IDA, Angus said. It has no paid employees and operates independently of the IDA and SEDC, he said.

“We have been talking with the ABO for some time, and it is our contention that it is not a public authority.”

The fund is registered as a not-for-profit corporation, according to the Department of State’s online corporation and business entity database.

But the budget office says because the fund’s money came from the IDA, it is a public authority.

“Any money that the IDA has is public money,” said budget office Deputy Director Ann Maloney. She said the Public Authorities Law of 2006 requires each state and local authority to share the following reports with the state: spending and revenue statements; budgets; salaries; grants and loans; a list of staff members; and a certified financial audit from an outside firm.

Angus, who in addition to being the fund’s chairman is vice president of the SEDC, said the fund will hold a board meeting in a couple of weeks to determine its next move.

In 2010, when the fund was formed, officials said its first order of business would be paying $30,000 for a fiscal and tax-base analysis of the town to promote jobs and strengthen the tax base.

The fund currently isn’t working on any projects, Angus said.

 
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comments

April 9, 2013
7:03 p.m.
k3cherry says...

What are they trying to hide?

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