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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Report Highlights

Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency - Project Approval and Monitoring (2019M-160)

Released: November 1, 2019 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Audit Objective

Determine whether the Board appropriately evaluated projects prior to approval and subsequently monitored the performance of businesses that received financial benefits.

Key Findings

  • The Board properly evaluated projects prior to approving financial benefits.
  • The Board could improve its monitoring and verification of project performance related to job creation and capital investment.
  • Four companies received sales tax exemptions that exceeded approved amounts by a total of $173,446. Of this amount, officials properly recaptured $97,020 from one company.

Key Recommendations

The Board should:

  • Ensure that reported employment levels are verified and supported.
  • Develop procedures to monitor that companies’ actual capital investments are consistent with those specified on the applications and used in the cost-benefit analysis.
  • Continue to compare the actual sales tax exemptions claimed by companies with the amounts authorized by the Board.
  • Recapture the sales tax exemption benefits from companies who have exceeded the amounts authorized.

IDA officials disagreed with how we presented the findings in the report. Appendix C includes our comments on the issues raised in the IDA’s response letter.

Background

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) is an independent public benefit corporation established in 1970.

OCIDA’s Board is composed of seven members, who are appointed by the County Legislature and responsible for OCIDA’s general management and financial and operational affairs. The Board-appointed Executive Director (Director) serves as the chief executive officer, and the Treasurer serves as the chief financial officer. Together, they are responsible for day-to-day operations. OCIDA funds its operations primarily with fees charged for processing applications and for administering financial assistance.

OCIDA annually reports information for approved projects, including granted tax exemptions, payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) and project employment.

Quick Facts
2017 Reported Projects83
2017 Tax Exemptions Granted$20.4 million
2017 PILOT Payments$9 million

Audit Period

January 1, 2014 – January 31, 2019


Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.ny.gov
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236