Thursday, September 22, 2011


Monroe County Legislator Dick Beebe (6th District, Greece)
says we need greater oversight on local development corporations.
photo:  Ove Overmyer
Rochester, N.Y.--  According to local news sources, Democratic lawmakers in the Monroe County Legislature on Thursday introduced legislation that would greatly expand the legislature’s role in overseeing local development corporations that serve county functions.

The measure would require greater financial disclosure by local development corporations, which, despite their prominent role in managing and financing a variety of operations operate without the scrutiny that other county agencies receive.

The legislation coincided with the release of a state audit of the county’s contract with Upstate Telecommunications Corp., a local development corporation that manages the county’s information technology systems.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli charged in the audit that the contract has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and smacked of insider dealing. He referred his findings to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for review.

Under the measure, legislators from the majority and minority parties would hold seats on the boards of local development corporations, and county contracts with them would be limited to five years in duration.

Legislator Richard Beebe, of Greece, said enough questions about the county’s use of local development corporations to warrant cooperation from the Republican majority on the matter.

“Time and again we’ve been told not to worry, everything is fine, but that’s just not good enough,” Beebe said. “Such approvals are the most basic oversight that needs to be required of these shadowy entities.”

Local development corporations are nonprofit organizations that have proliferated here and across the state in recent years, as municipal governments have turned to them to manage public functions off their budget books and, often, outside of the usual regulatory oversight.

In Monroe County, local development corporations oversee parking garages, computer networks and public safety communications systems.

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