Orange County Partnership Wins Critical Court Ruling
John Jordan | December 2019
GOSHEN—In what has been a protracted and at times contentious battle that threatened its very existence, a New York State Supreme Court Judge recently sided with the Orange County Partnership in its legal dispute with the State Authority Budget Office.
On Nov. 20, Orange County Supreme Court Judge Robert A. Onofry ruled that the Orange County Partnership is a private not-for-profit company focused on pursuing economic development throughout Orange County.
Judge Onofry rejected the State Authority Budget Office’s assertion that the Partnership was a governmental public authority under the ABO’s control. The court decision allows the Partnership to continue to pursue its goals of promoting economic development in Orange County, OCP officials stated.
The ABO position in litigation that began in 2013 prompted the Orange County Partnership to restructure and to reject any funding from Orange County government and the Orange County Industrial Development Agency. However, despite those actions, the ABO was seeking further remedial actions by the economic development agency, including forcing the Partnership to dissolve under its current structure, distribute its holdings and reincorporate as a new entity.
Robert Kaehler, current Chairman of the Partnership’s Board, said in response to the court decision, “We are pleased with the court’s decision. Prevailing in this years-long litigation with the state’s ABO agency that was intent on overregulating private economic development companies was a big victory for independent economic development. The process has only made the Partnership a stronger organization with the monumental support of our Investors. The Board and our staff of professionals will continue to function as we have for the past 33 years, attracting to and retaining business in Orange County, a jewel in New York’s economic development crown.”
Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Goshen-based Orange County Partnership, added, “The Orange County Partnership was established as a business driven, not-for-profit agency, focused on supporting economic development through job creation. We believed so critically in our mission and our structure, that we entered into a lawsuit against the NYS Authorities Budget Office and prevailed.”
The State ABO office did not return a phone call for comment on the court ruling.
In his ruling, Judge Onofry was critical of the ABO’s position concerning the Orange County Partnership’s organizational structure.
In his findings, he ruled “the ABO’s determination that the Orange County Partnership is ‘affiliated’ or ‘associated’ with a county, city, town or village government, or a local industrial development agency or authority or other local public benefit corporation, by reason of its conduct and relationships, to be arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”