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A bill that would require Suffolk County’s Industrial Development Agency to hire only county residents failed to advance Wednesday after a 3-3 legislative committee vote.
The measure, sponsored by Minority Leader John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset), came after IDA officials disclosed they planned to hire Tim Ruggeri, a former spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone, as a $77,000-a-year marketing specialist. Ruggeri lives in Brooklyn, and was forced out of his previous job after Bellone's effort to extend a one-year residency waiver failed in the legislature in December.
“The IDA’s whole mission is promote, retain and encourage business development and expansion here in Suffolk County,” Kennedy said during the economic development committee meeting. “They should be hiring and bringing on people who are Suffolk County residents.”
But Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said the board should be allowed to hire the best people they can find.
“The people who work for the IDA should be the most capable people,” he said. “The best qualified person may live just outside the border.”
William J. Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) also voted against moving the bill to the full legislature. He said he questioned whether the county had the authority to enforce such a provision. Legis. Sarah S. Anker (D-Mount Sinai) also voted against moving the bill forward.
Legislative counsel George Nolan told the board earlier in the meeting he believed the lawmakers had the necessary authority. Kennedy's bill would require all new IDA board members to agree that they will only hire individuals who live in Suffolk.
County lawmakers appoint the seven members of the IDA board, who have no terms and can be replaced at any time.
Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), joined Legis. Kevin J. McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) and Kennedy in voting to move the bill out of the Economic Development Committee on Wednesday. The same three members blocked a motion to table the resolution.
Anthony Manetta, IDA executive director, did not return a call for comment.
After the meeting, Kennedy said, “Obviously, I need to have more dialogue with my colleagues.”