State Senator Jeff Klein, Democratic Deputy Majority Leader in the New York State Senate, is encouraging members of the New Rochelle City Council to meet with him to discuss a home rule request made last week by Richard St. Paul, Louis Trangucci and Albert Tarantino, the three Republican members of the New Rochelle City Council.
"While I have not yet received the letter, I am more than happy to sit down with members of the New Rochelle City Council to discuss this matter," said State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).
The request was sent to New Rochelle's four Albany lawmakers -- State Senators Jeff Klein and Suzi Openheimer and State Assembly Representatives Amy Paulin and George Latimer -- earlier this week. Latimer and Klein have responded publicly. Paulin and Oppenheimer have not replied to requests for comment from Talk of the Sound.
The home rule request would allow the New Rochelle City Council to have the final say in granting benefits to IDA applicants.
Currently, the Council approves projects but plays no role in subsequent decisions of the IDA to grant tax abatements or other benefits. Lou Trangucci has been particular vocal in his concern that the NRIDA has, for years, placed the interests of developers over the interest of taxpayers.
Assembly Representative George Latimer says he expects to act soon on the request after communicating with the other area Albany lawmakers.
"My policy is to draft and submit any local bills requested, so after I touch base with [my colleagues here in Albany] I would expect we would do so again", Latimer told Talk of the Sound in an email, referencing he controversial New Rochelle Armory home rule request made last month by Mayor Noam Bramson.
"I will send it to the Legislative Bill Drafting Commission and will send the draft they develop to the three Council members for their review. If the language is OK, we would submit it for a number, and then the City Council can schedule a meeting to discuss a home rule resolution."
The home rule request for the IDA is part of a broader set of initiatives to reform the New Rochelle IDA led by Councilman Richard St. Paul who has proposed a series of 10 initiatives intended to bring greater transparency and accountability to the IDA. The NRIDA was recently criticized in strong terms by the New York State Comptrollers' Office which conducted an audit of 10 recent deals before the IDA. The OSC audit found a complete lack of process and documentation for IDA decisions and noted that the IDA had never done a cost-benefit analysis of any projects making it impossible for residents and taxpayers to judge whether approved projects delivered promised results.
Richard St. Paul Proposal to Increase Transparency of IDA.
1. Provide a list of board members on the IDA website
2. Hold meetings in the evening.
3. Televise meetings
4. Post meeting days on website
5. Post meeting minutes on website
6. Post annual report
7. Post current and previous projects with specifics details including type of benefits, job created, etc.
8. Post agenda for each meeting.
9. Rotate chairperson every two years
10. Bring IDA project before council for input prior to IDA voting on providing benefits (special meeting can be called if necessary)