State-appointed monitor heads to Orange County to verify tax breaks given to companies by IDA are legal, ethical

The appointment – which came as part of last year's state budget – comes after some lawmakers' complaints the tax relief was not worth it.

Ben Nandy

Mar 27, 2024, 10:45 PM

Updated 18 days ago

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A state-appointed monitor is headed to Orange County to make sure large tax breaks awarded to companies by the county's Industrial Development Agency are legal and ethical.
The appointment – which came as part of last year's state budget – comes after some lawmakers' complaints the tax relief was not worth it.
The monitor, forensic accountant Brian Sanvidge, told News 12 Wednesday his purpose was to ensure "total transparency, make sure there aren't any conflicts of interest."
To properly advise the IDA, Sanvidge will draw on the experts and resources from Anchin Accounting Advisory Firm, where he serves as the Principal Leader of Compliance and Investigations.
"By being involved in the process, it'll enable us to make comments to them and recommendations potentially before they do something that could be viewed as lacking transparency or some other issue," Sanvidge said in a Zoom interview Wednesday afternoon.
State Sen. James Skoufis – who helped secure the monitor position in last year's budget – has criticized the IDA over tax breaks awarded to several companies.
The tax relief comes through Payments In Lieu Of Taxes, aka PILOTs.
Applicants must provide public benefits to receive a PILOT.
IDAs may consider public bathrooms, job growth or parks public benefits.
Most recently, Skoufis lambasted the IDA for awarding a PILOT to a food distributor whose leaders indicated in their application that the PILOT was not completely necessary.
The PILOT awarded Milmar Food Group $2.5 million in tax relief over 15 years as the company expanded operations in Goshen.
"We're doing everything completely lawfully," Orange County IDA CEO Bill Fioravanti told News 12.
In a Zoom interview Wednesday morning Fioravanti said he was annoyed that the IDA must spend $500,000 over the next two years for services from Sanvidge's firm.
Fioravanti said the IDA and its board will be "vindicated," once Sanvidge becomes familiar with their policies.
"After all these unwarranted attacks from the senator, it will be, really, irrefutable evidence that we've done everything properly," he said. "In that respect, we really look forward to it."
The two soon-to-be colleagues plan to meet soon.
Sanvidge promises to enter his position in a "completely objective" manner, despite ongoing spats between some lawmakers and the IDA.


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