Governor signs legislation requiring live-stream of economic development meetings

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2019 at 12:07 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jim Whipple, Orleans Economic Development Agency chief executive officer, discusses how to promote the Medina Business Park during a meeting in January 2017. The 300-acre site is one of the largest certified shovel-ready sites in the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation today that will require economic development agencies to live-stream their meetings, including public hearings. Videos of the meetings also need to be posted on the agencies’ websites within five days.

The legislation pertains to all industrial development agencies, including the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Jim Whipple, chief executive officer of the Orleans EDA, said he is waiting details from the state on how to meet the new guidelines. The Orleans EDA has its monthly meeting the second Fridays each month at 8 a.m. at 121 North Main St., Albion, in the conference room of the Albion Visitors’ Center.

The meetings are open to the public but usually only include the board of directors, EDA staff and a news reporter. An agenda and other documents from the meetings are posted on the Orleans EDA website.

Public hearings move around the county, usually at the village hall or town hall in a community where a tax incentive plan is being proposed.

Whipple is one of three staff members for the Orleans EDA, which is much smaller than many other IDAs in the state. He doesn’t expect it will be a big effort to meet the new state guidelines. However, he thinks it will stifle some conversation among the board members and staff.

“It might restrict some of the interplay and people might be less likely to share ideas outside of the box,” he said. “I think our meetings will be more stodgy.”

Cuomo signed the legislation (S.88/A.3002) that he said will make the IDAs more transparent with the public, and also allow more community members to see the boards and staff at work.

“Industrial development agencies are tasked with revitalizing communities and fostering economic growth at the local level, but most New Yorkers don’t have time to attend meetings and participate in the process,” Governor Cuomo said in a news release. “This new measure will help foster civic engagement and get more residents involved in the meetings and hearings that will ultimately have a huge impact on the future of their communities.”

The new legislation takes effect on Jan. 1.

The video recordings need to remain available to the public for five years.

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