OSC audit of Albany IDA to include Hilton tax deal

Note: This story appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Times Union.

The exterior of the Hilton Albany.

The state comptroller’s office has notified the city’s Industrial Development Agency of an impending audit, which is to include a review of a property tax break for the downtown Hilton Albany hotel.

While the audit represents a routine function of the comptroller, it comes as the company that owns the Hilton and the union representing hotel employees are locked in a bitter contract dispute that has led to a union picket and boycott of the facility. The most recent contract expired in April.

The audit, which is to begin some time next week, will focus on determining whether the IDA ensures job creation and retention goals are achieved by companies with project agreements with the city entity, and what actions are taken when goals are not met. The audit’s mission was detailed in an Oct. 6 letter to IDA CEO Sarah Reginelli from Jeffrey Leonard, chief examiner in the comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability.

In an interview Thursday, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said that while the Hilton deal is not the only part of the planned audit, “clearly there have been a lot of issues at the hotel, particularly with regard to how labor is treated there.”

“I think it’s fair to ask what has been the return for the benefits the project receives,” he said, later adding, “I think given some of the controversy we continue to see swirling around the Albany Hilton, it’s a good time to ask some questions about what’s going on.”

A representative from United Capital Corp., the hotel owner, did not return a message seeking comment on Friday. A spokesperson for the IDA also did not return a call.

To read the full version of this story, click here.
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