Putnam’s IDA to Move Forward Without CEO

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After months of scrutiny from legislators, the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is moving forward, and doing so without its chief executive officer.

Mahopac resident Neal Sullivan, who has served as the CEO for the IDA for less than a year, was relieved of his duties by IDA board chairman Richard Ruchala a few weeks ago, ending a relationship between the two that never seemed too friendly. Making the move without needed consent of the other board members, Ruchala explained in an interview “ (Sullivan) was for the bigger government concept and I wasn’t so that is it an issue.”

“We did have differences of opinion,” Ruchala said. “And they were noticeable at legislative meetings.”

And they were very noticeable with the two clashing mostly over who should be appointed to the IDA board to fill three vacancies. Sullivan, in a memo to the county Legislature, put forward three residents to be appointed, but Ruchala had other potential members in mind. A letter written by Sullivan to the legislature, which Ruchala described at critical toward the IDA board, also seemed to lead to heightened tension and his eventual dismissal.

In a May 11 memo, Sullivan said the county Legislature “needs to perform a complete review and evaluation of the PIDA,” adding county funding would be helpful to the agency, which has seen financial difficulties of late.

Calls to Sullivan to his office, Sullivan Insurance in Mahopac, were not returned.

Besides the firing, the IDA has been busy and been much talked about at Economic Development Committee meetings. At the most recent one in July in which Ruchala appeared, it was communicated to Chairwoman Barbara Scuccimarra that the PARIS report that the IDA is required to submit to the state ABA was finally handed in after it was past the due date and now the IDA was in “full compliance.”

Ruchala said he hopes the IDA is able to broker a deal with a couple of companies soon that would help IDA funding.

The three new board members are also becoming acclimated to the new board as it pursues new projects to bring businesses to Putnam.

“It used to be a board where you could just show up and vote at certain times,” Ruchala said. “Now this is a real working board.”

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