Roosevelt Island Residents Association VP Rebukes RIOC For Cultural Center Fee Policy - Says NY State Is Not A Friend To Roosevelt Island Community
As previously reported, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) plans on charging fees to organizations using the newly renovated and about to be re-opened Cultural Center. Before the renovation, organizations were not charged fees for use of the Cultural Center by RIOC.
During the February 26 RIOC Board of Directors Public Session, Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Vice President Sherie Helsien criticized RIOC for instituting any new Cultural Center fees, particularly as it applies to the Main Street Theater & Dance Alliance.
According to Ms. Helstien, RIOC should be:
... asking for no more than a Dollar a month compensation if they must have something from this long time community service.and added:
... RIOC and the State want our money. It seems at almost any cost to this community. Shame on RIOC but they have no shame and they have no backbone to stand up for us.
The State is, and I am not talking necessarily about the RIOC Board members, our neighbors, I am talking about RIOC the corporation. The State is and almost never has been a friend to this community and we all know this well....
... Is there anyone on the RIOC Board or staff looking after the interests of this beleaguered community?...
RIOC Director Margie Smith responded to Ms. Helstien saying:
There was a mandate by the State that has to do with grants and the way we can spend money. We have been knocking ourselves out trying to come up with a way to get everybody back in there for as little as possible....The NY State Authorities Budget office issued this January 13, 2015 policy guidance:
... You say we don't have your back - believe me we have your back...
... As a group these guys are doing everything they can to get everybody back in the cultural center, all the groups and to make it as fair as possible. And to do it without breaking the law of NY State and without going against the mandate.
...State and local authorities, as defined by Section 2 of the Public Authorities Law, whether created as public benefit corporations or formed as not- for-profit corporations, have only those powers explicitly granted or necessarily implied by statute. Accordingly, state and local authorities may engage in only those activities and exercise those powers which are expressly authorized in law or which are incidental to performing their statutory purposes.Apparently, RIOC can no longer subsidize Roosevelt Island organizations with below market rent for space it controls under this new NY State mandate.
Authorities Budget Office Policy Guidance: This limitation applies to the power of a state or local authority to award its monies in the form of grants and loans to public or private interests. Such financial assistance is prohibited unless expressly authorized in statute.
A state and local authority (other than an industrial development agency) formed as public benefit corporation may not award grants or issue loans of its own funds unless such power is expressly permitted in its enabling statute. The authority to make grants and execute loans is not an implied power of a public benefit corporation....
More on Cultural Center fee issue from previous post.