Skoufis warns new Orange County IDA leadership to maintain autonomy

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James Skoufis

NEWBURGH – In the wake of the reorganization of the Orange County Industrial Development Agency with a new board of directors and interim leadership, State Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) said it is “an opportunity to rebuild public confidence in the organization’s mission.” Of most importance in that effort is “the need to maintain unequivocal autonomy from any governing body and, equally important, any other economic development agency.”

Skoufis, who is an IDA watchdog, raised his concerns as the new IDA board has named Orange County Economic Development Director Bill Fioravanti as unsalaried supervisor of day-to-day operations of the IDA and County Attorney Langdon Chapman as interim lawyer overseeing all legal matters of the agency.

“In my mind all IDAs ought to have an invisible wall between what they do and economic development offices, whether they be government economic development offices or quasi-government or private economic development groups and I do have some concern that there is talk about breaking down that invisible wall,” he said.

At an IDA board meeting Tuesday evening, without naming names or singling out anyone, board Chairman Michael Torelli said the agency will not be bullied by anyone.

“We are not going to be intimidated or influenced by anybody on the outside to tell us what to do or how we are going to go about our business,” he said.

Skoufis said the IDA staff “should have no active connection whatsoever with government or economic development offices.” Any arrangement like that “completely undermines the IDA staff’s ability to act as an independent arbiter of applications.”

Skoufis said the IDA staff “should have no active connection whatsoever with government or economic development offices.” Any arrangement like that “completely undermines the IDA staff’s ability to act as an independent arbiter of applications.”