By Chris Chapman
OLEAN – Failure to file required reports with New York State officials has landed two City of Olean programs in a bit of hot water, at least temporarily. The Olean Local Development Corporation and the Olean Urban Renewal Agency have received letters of censure.
The Local Development Corporation now has come into reporting compliance, according to Mary George, the city’s community development director. Urban Renewal should be in full compliance shortly, she said.
George said she thought she had submitted the final pieces of the local development corporation on the state’s reporting website but had not checked a few of the boxes to fully complete the process. That situation has been rectified, she said. A string of email responses provided by George shows that the documents that were still outstanding for the development corporation from Oct. 4 to Oct. 7 have been finalized and placed on the state website for review.
David Kidera, director of the state Authorities Budget Office, confirmed that the development corporation has brought itself into compliance.
One other issue seems to loom with the development corporation. According to the letter of censure, the board members have not all gone through the state-mandated training for fiscal accountability. George said she has provided the training opportunities numerous times, but some still have not received the educational component.
The board members of the Olean Local Development Corporation had been made aware of the noncompliance issues in a warning letter from the state Authorities Budget Office on Feb. 27. The letter of censure claims the development corporation failed to file annual and audit reports for fiscal years ending May 31, 2012, May 31, 2013 and May 31, 2014. According to state law, these reports must be reported to state officials 60 days prior to the start of the next fiscal year.
“We have been completely transparent in the process,” George said. “I forgot to check a few boxes.”
According to Kidera, that is something the online reporting system is designed to specifically avoid. PARIS, the state reporting site, is designed to give an error message if everything is not completed as required.
“There is a box that says the agency has reviewed the document to make sure it is complete and accurate,” Kidera said. “If something is not completed, the system will notify the filer right away. A message is presented to the filer when the report is submitted properly as well.”
The same set of problems has been present in the Olean Urban Renewal Agency, with the members of that body also receiving letters of censure from the state. This process is expected to be resolved very soon, George said, as the members of the board will take the actions needed to be in compliance.
The problem, according to George, has never been in the transparency side of the issue but in the large amount of work that has to be undertaken by the members of the municipal bodies.