Erie County prosecutors are opening an investigation into the Erie County Water Authority.
According to a press release from the Erie County District Attorney's Office sent to 7 Eyewitness News, prosecutors will be contacting the Authorities Budget Office and opening an investigation.
The Authorities Budget Office oversees public authorities in New York released a blistering report on the Erie County Water Authority Tuesday calling on the county legislature to clean house and replace commissioners of the board.
The Authorities Budget Office, which based its findings on the authority's operations in 2016 and 2017, found the following:
- Board members routinely approved resolutions and transactions while lacking adequate information. A contract that granted a 36 percent salary increase for the deputy director was approved without the board reviewing the terms of the contract. Another contract, also approved without review, gave the director a 'golden parachute,' guaranteeing him a full salary for the length of his contract regardless of whether future boards would want to terminate him.
- Much of the authority's business was not conducted in meetings open to the public, which is a violation of the provisions of Open Meetings Law. Instead, board members operated under a "veil of secrecy."
- The authority avoided notifying customers of expected water rate changes. The authority determined in October 2017 that residential water rates would increase to $3.23 per 1,000 gallons for 2018 and increase another seven cents for 2019. The authority has not disclosed the increase to customers.
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