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Freeport Community Development Agency misses state deadlines

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy is shown outside Village

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy is shown outside Village Hall on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Freeport Community Development Agency has again failed to file required financial reports to the state Authorities Budget Office by its deadline, state officials said.

The agency is a public benefit corporation that functions separately from village government, although Mayor Robert Kennedy serves as its board of directors’ chairman. The corporation aims to promote moderate- to low-income housing projects, economic development and downtown revitalization.

Michael Fricchione, a spokesman for Kennedy, said the current agency administration was not aware of the reporting requirements. He said the agency is waiting for a financial auditor to go over the documents and expects to be in full compliance by Friday.

On Jan. 25, the state Authorities Budget Office issued a list of 124 state and local authorities that had failed to file their required reports. Freeport’s budget report was due on Jan. 1. The agency’s annual and audit reports were due on May 31, 2016, or 90 days after the fiscal year ends on Feb. 28.

“As a result, these authorities are considered out of compliance with accountability, transparency and reporting requirements of state law,” a news release said.

Since the Authorities Budget Office first implemented its reporting system in 2007, the Freeport agency has never filed its financial reports by the deadlines, according to Michael Farrar, the authority office’s deputy director of compliance.

In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, the village’s community development agency never filed its reports, Farrar said. The reports for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 were all filed late — sometimes years after the deadline.

The 2014 reports, due by the end of May 2014, were submitted on Jan. 25, 2017, Farrar said.

“From the start, they were delinquent and have periodically been catching up,” he said, calling the agency “one of the worst” in filing practices.

Although several warnings have been issued to Freeport, the Authorities Budget Office has never formally censured the agency — which could affect future operations like bond ratings, Farrar said.

In 2015, Kennedy sent a letter to the state saying they were trying to get into compliance.

“But other than that, we haven’t had a lot of correspondence as to why,” Farrar said.

The agency’s previous executive director, Annette Wright, served from 1999 to December 2014. The current executive director, Kimberly Labrador, was appointed in May 2015, Fricchione said.

“The people that are there right now, they had no knowledge that this was something they had to comply with,” Fricchione said. “There was a communication breakdown.”

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