Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, today blasted the New York Power Authority after audits conducted by the state comptroller's office revealed NYPA spent $160,000 on office parties over the past two-and-a-half years.
"NYPA is hosting lavish parties while making plans to hikes our rates," Ceretto said. "This is a textbook case of taxpayer abuse at an authority, which consistently complains of its revenue shortfalls, and it highlights the urgent need to have local representation on the NYPA board. We need to end the abuse at NYPA and return accountability to public authorities."
Ceretto continued, "Yesterday, Senator Maziarz and I unveiled our 'Empower Niagara' petition drive in the face of rate hikes to Niagara County residents. Now we find out that downstate board members are throwing lavish parties while our rates increase locally? This audit is an outrage to the hard-working men and women of Niagara County. We deserve a vote on the NYPA board."
According to the comptroller's audit, NYPA threw 21 holiday parties and picnics for current and retired employees and their guests during the 30-month period. Included in these expenses were food bills between $9,100 and $9,500 for annual in-house holiday parties at the Clarence D. Rappleyea Building, NYPA's headquarters in White Plains.
Ceretto said the audit also found that NYPA spent $142,000 on awards, gifts and ceremonies to recognize employee performance, as well as $21,000 on AARP memberships for all of its retirees.
"We need new and local leadership at NYPA," he said. "The Niagara Power Project powers a large part of the state, and we need leadership that will protect this valuable asset to ensure that it is used effectively. Families in Niagara County should not have to pay more for their power so that NYPA can continue to throw lavish parties for its staff."
The "Empower Niagara" petition drive was started by Ceretto and Maziarz to impress upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo that Niagara County representation on the NYPA board of trustees is essential.
Those wishing to sign or pass a petition can contact the assembly office at 716-282-6062. Petitions will be hand-delivered to Cuomo in Albany.