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State regulator gets more teeth to deal with public authorities

State regulator gets more teeth to deal with public authorities

New legislation increases potential penalties for organizations that file reports late or not at all
State regulator gets more teeth to deal with public authorities
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

ALBANY — The state has increased the penalties for economic development agencies and other public authorities that don’t file budgets and reports with regulators on a timely basis.

The move is a step toward forced transparency on the part of the hundreds of entities that the state Authorities Budget Office oversees. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a news release Thursday, explained that “Local public authorities are responsible for some of the state’s most essential services and infrastructure — from transportation to energy to water — and it's critical that they follow the law and fulfill their responsibilities to the public.”

Previously, the ABO could censure an authority that missed the deadline to file its budget, audit and annual reports, and could recommend suspension of its officers.

The deadline to file is 90 days after the end of the authority’s fiscal year.

Under the legislation Cuomo signed, the ABO now has the power to suspend the officers when an authority is more than three years late in filing.

Some local authorities have gone years without filing reports, Cuomo’s office said, and limits on the ABO’s enforcement powers have prevented it from taking meaningful action against them.

The Authorities Budget Office Annual Report on Public Authorities in New York State, dated July 1, shows that 120 authorities currently are delinquent on their annual report.

A list of Capital Region authorities late with their reports is below. Many are very small operations. Some have reasons their tardiness.

The Village of Waterford Local Development Corporation, for example, has indicated its intentions to dissolve. (The ABO responds that authorities still are responsible for filing timely reports even if planning to dissolve).

Two others in similar circumstances are in Fulton County: The Crossroads Incubator Corp. and the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation, both now subsidiaries of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, which was formed in 2012 to unify them and their functions.

CRG President and CEO Ron Peters said his organization is in the process of dissolving both Crossroads and EDC, and it’s taking a while. The two are basically empty shells with no assets, he added.

The Fulton County EDC got into a battle of wills with the state Authorities Budget Office a decade ago, maintaining it was a private entity and even taking legal action in an attempt to prove it was not subject to state oversight. 

Peters said the Center for Regional Growth has no objection to the ABO. 

“We’re all in the same boat,” he said. “The ABO does a lot of good oversight.”

Also missing the ABO filing deadline was the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority.

Ryan McMahon, executive director of the downtown civic center, explained that the authority isn’t on time because it can’t be.

“We file every year late because we have to wait for the city to audit,” he said. “We should be filing any day now.”

The City Center Authority once got a phone call about being late, after a transition of leadership at the ABO, but apparently was able to explain the situation. “The ABO knows we’re always late.”

McMahon said he has no objection to the additional layer of oversight.

“If you don’t have anything to hide, just file it, that’s my logic,” he said.

The following entities in and around the Capital Region missed their reporting deadlines, the ABO said in its July 1 report:

  • Albany County Land Bank Corporation
  • Castleton-Schodack Local Development Corporation
  • Corinth Industrial Development Agency 
  • Crossroads Incubator Corporation 
  • Fulton County Economic Development Corporation 
  • Green Island Power Authority 
  • Hoosick Local Development Corporation 
  • Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency
  • Mechanicville Community Development Agency 
  • Saratoga Springs City Center Authority 
  • Schoharie Community Development Corporation 
  • South Glens Falls Local Development Corporation 
  • Warren and Washington counties Civic Development Corporation
  • Warren and Washington counties Industrial Development Agency
  • Waterford Capital Resource Corporation (town)
  • Waterford Local Development Corporation (village)
  • Watervliet Local Development Corporation 
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