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July 31, 2014
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Where’s that IDA info?

Dave Colavito

On January 20, the Sullivan County Legislature adopted Resolution 57-11, a resolution introduced by its executive committee. It requires, among other things, the posting of Sullivan County Industrial Development Association (IDA) project fiscal and employment performance information to the Sullivan County website, so that county taxpayers can more easily discern the level of local job creation actually realized in exchange for the public tax exemptions being provided on behalf of those projects.

County government remains non-compliant with Resolution 57-11.

Here is a brief history—all of it available to you in meeting minutes of the executive committee.

Shortly after Resolution 57-11 was adopted, members of the public asked the executive committee when the resolution’s required information would actually be publicly posted to the county’s website. The committee responded that compliance was scheduled to approximately coincide (presumably to minimize cost) with the mandatory reporting of similar information to the state later in March. When the same question was asked in April, the committee’s response was that compliance would be achieved in May. In May, the committee assured the public that compliance was now very close at hand and slated for early June. It’s now past early June; yet the same question remains open: when will county government realize compliance with this important resolution and post the required information to the Sullivan County website?

The time has come for county residents to acknowledge that it makes no sense to expect a substantively different answer in response to the same question. So I’d like put a different question to members of this body, one particularly applicable to those of you who are also self-employed or otherwise run a business. If you had a client who continually remained in arrears, month after month promising to remit payment and failing to do so, would you continue asking this client when they plan to square up their account, or would you take other action?

To date, two things remain clear: (1) county government remains non-compliant with Resolution 57-11; (2) the issue isn’t going to go away.

Now, for those legislators who aren’t seeking reelection this year, none of this may matter much; but for those who are, here’s a bit of gratuitous campaign advice. Consider asking yourselves if you want to be dealing with questions about government accountability and your role in county government’s continued non-compliance with Resolution 57-11 on the campaign trail. Dealing with those questions will be especially awkward for those of you who intend to campaign on a platform of reform, because once letters like this one begin appearing regularly in the local papers, it will be difficult to respond to those awkward questions as though we haven’t already had these conversations—many times over.

Something else is also clear. Achieving compliance with this resolution isn’t rocket science; nor does it involve grappling with complicated issues surrounding how to keep our county afloat amidst the immense, and largely unforeseen, challenges stemming from fiscal short-falls triggered by the global recession. No. The lack of compliance here speaks to something more basic: saying what you mean, then doing what you say—or otherwise providing a credible explanation. If county voters can’t count on you for that, then what can we count on?

[Dave Colavito is a resident of Rock Hill, NY.]