Question from Gary Ferguson, Executive Director, Ithaca Downtown Partnership:
We have received a letter from the State Legislature signed by Richard Brodsky and John Flanagan asking for information about our local downtown development corporation organization as it pertains to the public authorities law. The letter requests detailed information be sent pertaining to directors, compensation, board policies, relations with the City, and corporate debt, as well as copies of our articles and by-laws. Has anyone else received such a letter? What do we know about this initiative?
Downtown Committee of Syracuse:
It may be related to the Public Authorities Accountability Act (http://www.abo.state.ny.us/abo/about_outlineofProvisions.html), although we were told by Legislature staff that BIDs would not be affected by it.
1000 Islands International Tourism Council:
We have also received the letter under our corporate name “Thousand Islands Regional Tourism Development Corporation.” I’m crafting a reply, but would appreciate any insight into the initiative. - Gary DeYoung, Director of Tourism
Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc
I am in receipt of this request on behalf of the Promote Gloversville Development Corporation D/B/A Gloversville Economic Development Corporation. I have not supplied any information and will wait till I hear from you. - Wally Hart, President
Town of Union
To date, the Town of Union Local Development Corporation has not received such a request. As we all know, LDC's are required to adhere to the Public Authorities Accountability Act (PAAA), but I'm not aware of this initiative by the State Legislature - Joe Moody, Director of Economic Development
Victor Local Development Corporation
I received it as well and turned it over to the Village attorney to look at. I dont know anything about the initiative. - Kathy Rayburn, Executive Director.
City of Binghamton
The Binghamton Local Development Corporation (BLDC) and the Binghamton Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) have received such requests from the Legislative members in conjunction with the Public Authority Accountability Act of 2005. As I recall, the response were to be sent to the NYS Authority Budget Office -http://www.abo.state.ny.us/index.html. Initially there seemed to be less emphasis on Local Development Corporations and more on IDA and URA. – Merry Harris, Director, Economic Development Office
Cattaraugus Local Development Corporation
I contacted the Office of Richard Brodsky today. I talked with a Mike McLaughlin who is a Policy Analyst. Mike stated that this request for information is in part a direct result of the "Authorities" that have been set up and could borrow money without the public’s knowledge.
In addition Mike stated they have an old mailing list of 400+ LDC's which is very outdated as evident by the high number of returned letters unopened or people calling and saying they no longer exist. They are trying to just see who is out there. He stated that we should fill the information out as best we could but if you don't have the information or it doesn't apply do the best you can. I asked if this was to "start a dialog" he said yes but then also used the term "to regulate".
I explained that LDC's are a great hands-on, on the ground vehicles for community and economic development that could really help NYS's economy. Ours is all volunteer and we have no paid staff. I stated that I believe that a better idea than regulation is an umbrella association that would bring LDC's together and that we did not need more bureaucracy. LDC's can "shot scoot and communicate" rapidly for implementing projects that added bureaucratic layers will only impede efforts. It was a friendly conversation...
While I was typing this I received a call from a law firm that sent a follow up letter to all the LDC's on the list. They indicated that they are familiar with the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005 and that they are helping LDC's answer the many and varied questions asked by Richard Brodsky's letter. What I got out of this conversation was very informative. That the LDC's are being viewed as "shadow government entities" like IDA's and they all should be placed under the regulation of this act. But part of this movement is seated in labor unions pressuring the Legislature to make sure that prevailing wages are paid on all work done by these LDC's. We have gotten federal and state grants so we understand we have met prevailing wages on our projects i.e. the Senator Pat McGee Rails-to-Trails project funded with TEA-21 and Parks & Recreation Grant Funds.
I will supply the information to the best of our ability within short timeframe. Based on our initial understanding I believe that we do not fall within the parameters of the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005. If small entities like our LDC have to meet the standards that were create for the large public authorities I am very concerned that the "burden" will kill the spirit and passion of the volunteers that devote their time and expertise in making the projects and LDC successful. I would hope that Richard Brodsky's office questions are more a fact finding effort than the initiation of "unrealistic expectations" for heavy regulations of not-for-profit LDC's that are sincerely trying to establish community and economic development. Too much regulation is like pulling up the carrot to see how the roots are growing...it will kill the grassroots movements within LDC's. - Rick LeFeber, Executive Director
The Cayuga County Development Corporation (the 'CDC") - an LDC formed in Cayuga County to engage in economic development in partnership with County Planning & ED and the County IDA, received the same letter from the two chairmen. We did respond to the request for information, and indicated that we did consider the CDC to fall under the broad definition of a "local authority" and therefore subject to PAAA. - Steve Lynch, Director, Cayuga County Planning & ED