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A new audit conducted by the State Comptroller’s Office has brought to light more stark examples of Industrial Development Agency (IDA) failures, lax oversight, questionable operations and handling of taxpayer dollars.
The findings of the audit, which focused on six IDAs, are especially shocking for Orange County, and the Town of Hempstead.
For Orange County, the audit raised several alarms about their IDA’s conduct. For example, the audit found that the IDA inappropriately accepted $1.1 million in grant money from Millennium Pipeline in 2008.
Furthermore, the IDA, as reported by the audit, “consistently reported the Millennium Pipeline would create 350 new jobs.” The audit goes on to say, “However, the project application indicated 27 jobs would be created but did not state these jobs would be in Orange County. Orange officials told us the project was never expected to create jobs.”
Say what?! The Orange County IDA was lying about the number of jobs that would be created, and doing so with literally no basis for their claims whatsoever. Worse, the company didn’t even pretend the (far fewer) number of jobs created would even be located in Orange County.
Adding to the Orange County IDA’s missteps: In 2009, they gave an unauthorized short-term loan to Continental Organics of $108,000. The company ended up declaring bankruptcy but not before leaving behind a slew of creditors in its wake.
In general, the Orange County IDA consistently “Lacked oversight of projects, recordkeeping and controls, while overstating the jobs created by the businesses to which the IDA had given tax breaks, including Millennium.”
That is unforgiveable when you are talking about spending taxpayer money, and especially so when doling it out to hand-picked companies.
As for the Hempstead County IDA, the audit found “that the IDA board only used a standard project application and did not have more specific selection criteria or ways to independently confirm an applicant’s information, such as job creation and salaries, during the audit period.” The audit also found that only 53 of the IDA’s 65 studied projects met their job requirements.
This audit is even more evidence of consistent IDA failures in New York. IDAs have proven time and time again that they have been, on net, a waste of taxpayer dollars, doing more harm than good.
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