RAMAPO, N.Y. -- State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has long proposed increasing the state's oversight of local development corporations, but legislation remains hung up in Albany.
Now DiNapoli is hoping a federal probe that spurred the arrests of two local officials in Rockland County will shake things loose, his office says.
DiNapoli spokesman Brian Butry pointed Monday to the recent federal indictments of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and Aaron Troodler, former executive director of the LDC that was behind the building of Provident Bank Park, a baseball stadium in Pomona.
St. Lawrence and Troodler were charged with securities fraud and other things in connection with a three-year federal probe into the financing of the stadium project.
The comptroller is looking at the Ramapo case as “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Butry said.
As far back as 2012, DiNapoli was calling on the state Legislature to pass his proposal to give the comptroller’s office direct audit authority over LDCs and other entities controlled by local governments.
“My office has repeatedly found that local governments have used LDCs to cover fiscal improprieties that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” DiNapoli said then.
He added that “proper oversight will help restore these entities to their original purpose of promoting economic development.”
The proposal has been shuttled back and forth between the Assembly and the Senate and is now sitting in the latter’s committee on local government, Butry said.
The state has close to 300 LDCs, DiNapoli said.
While it can’t audit the LDCs directly, his office can audit local governments, and it has uncovered “the circumvention of state finance laws” by localities through the use of LDCs, DiNapoli said in the 2012 release.
DiNapoli has often referenced the baseball stadium, saying in one press release that “Ramapo town officials left taxpayers potentially liable for up to $60 million” relating to its construction.
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