Saturday, November 3, 2018

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Two Poughkeepsie council members seek reappointment to city IDA

POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie City councilmembers Sarah Brannen and Sarah Salem believe their case to rescind the council's resolution reducing the number of members on the city’s Industrial Development Agency Board is stronger than ever.  They plan to bring up the IDA board issue again at Monday night’s common council session.

The two were removed from the IDA board and the board’s membership was reduced from seven to five recently when common Council Chairwoman Ann Finney convinced fellow council members that to serve on both boards is a conflict of interest.

Since then, two attorneys have opined that serving on both the common council and IDA is not such a conflict.

Patrick Malgieri, a partner in the Harris Beach law firm that represents the IDA, wrote that “the statutory elements of a conflict of interest do not exist in this instance and there is no ‘pecuniary or material’ benefit or interest that Council members Brannen or Salem would derive from their appointment to the agency board.”

Wade Beltramo, the general counsel to the New York Conference of Mayor said there is no inherent incompatibility in serving on both boards. If there was a legal action between the two boards, the recommended remedy would be to recuse oneself, not resign or be removed, he said.           

Brannen hopes her common council colleagues will rescind their removal from the IDA board.

“I hope that they are persuaded by this new information to rescind R18-85 and move forward with a beneficial vision per development in the city,” she said.

Salem is also concerned with Finney’s effort to replace current IDA members with new ones.

“This attempt now to seek out new members to remove other members who vote for this project, is just really an attack on development in our city and an attempt to hold our tax base hostage and that is not what our city needs right now,” Salem said.

The two council members note that the events leading to the resolution to remove them stemmed from the IDA’s consideration and approval of a 10-year PILOT application by the RL Baxter Building Corp. for a project on Maple Street because “most of the members believed it would add value to the City of Poughkeepsie and increase the vibrancy of the ‘Middle Main’ neighborhood by bringing mixed-income housing, a bright open public plaza, and a space for the community to gather.”

Brannen and Salem also urged their council colleagues to establish a task force for housing and economic development and fill all of the vacancies on the city board of ethics.


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