There could be stronger oversight of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency under a provision backed by state Sen. James Skoufis in a legislative budget proposal being advanced this week.
The IDA, which has faced scrutiny in recent years after three former officials pleaded guilty to corruption charges, would receive a state monitor in charge of overseeing deals brokered by the agency, Skoufis said.
“In the wake of the Orange County IDA’s well-documented scandals and the resulting leadership shakeup, we had hoped the agency would clean its act up and stop ripping off taxpayers. We were sorely mistaken,” said Skoufis, the chairman of the Senate Investigations Committee. “If the IDA refuses to act in good faith to protect the public interest, the state has an obligation to step in and safeguard taxpayers. I won’t sit idly by while the IDA picks the pockets of Orange County residents year after year.”
The creation of the monitor is expected to be included in the state Senate's proposed budget resolution this week. The monitor would have the authority to block the IDA's ability to approve tax breaks and impose operational changes.
The proposed creation of the monitor comes after officials at the IDA in 2021 pleaded guilty to corruption charges in connection to allegations of self-dealing and conflicts of interests. The former officials were ordered to repay more than $1 million in restitution.
Last month, Skoufis announced an investigation into how tax breaks are awarded by several IDAs after a subsidy plan was approved for a developer in the Hudson Valley who said he did not need one.
In a statement, the top official at the IDA in Orange County called the proposed oversight measure "a disgrace."
"He is the one wasting valuable taxpayer money by staging political stunts like this," said CEO Bill Fioravanti. "He knows full well that a so-called provision like the one he announced this morning has no chance of becoming law, despite his own party having a supermajority in the state legislature. That’s because the Senator’s own colleagues in Albany don’t agree with him on the important issues surrounding economic development in New York state."