The Genesee County Industrial Development Agency should reclaim $340,000 in bonuses it gave to employees, the New York State Authorities Budget Office said in a report last week.
The IDA routinely gave bonuses to its employees despite having no policy in place authorizing them, according to the report. “We believe that the bonus payment practices of the GCIDA are inappropriate,” the report said.
From 2005 to 2009, the bonuses were paid to 10 employees, with the majority going to its chief executive officer, Steven Hyde, who received $185,000.
In 2009, Hyde received a $60,000 bonus on top of his $153,000 salary. Local IDAs confer tax benefits for economic development projects throughout the state.
The salary alone made Hyde the highest-paid executive director among county-level IDAs in the state, the report said.
The county, which had an estimated population of 57,868, according to the U.S. Census, lies between the more populous Erie and Monroe counties, which in 2009 paid their IDA executive directors $133,911 and $105,177, respectively.
Hyde’s compensation was less than that of Seth Pinsky, the president the New York City Economic Development Corp., who also serves as chairman of the New York City Industrial Development Agency. Pinsky was paid a base salary of $193,613 in fiscal 2009 and also received non-taxable benefits of $69,701, according to a tax filing.
The Authorities Budget Office, which oversees public authorities, said that general municipal law did not specifically allow bonus compensation plans.
The only guidance regarding IDA bonus payments is an advisory opinion from the state comptroller’s office that said such bonuses constitute “a gratuity and an improper gift of public moneys.”
ABO director David Kidera said that the office had not received a formal response from the Genesee IDA.
The office could recommend that the local government remove the IDA board members for lack of sufficient oversight and breach of fiduciary duty, though it has no plans to do so, Kidera said.
Calls to the Genesee County IDA were not returned by press time.