Opinion 92-51

This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES -- Officers and Employees (reimbursement for expenses incurred by member's spouse)
PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES -- Reimbursement for Expenses (spouses' expenses - spouse of member of IDA)

GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §856(2): An industrial development agency may not reimburse members of the agency or its executive director for the travel expenses incurred by the spouses of a member or the executive director, irrespective of whether the proposed source of moneys to be used for the reimbursement is public or private.

You ask whether an industrial development agency (IDA) may reimburse members of the IDA or the executive director of the IDA for certain travel expenses incurred by their respective spouses. You state that the travel was for the purpose of attending out-of-town meetings of or with, among other entities, an industrial development regional council, and the State Job Development Authority. In several instances, the meeting specifically included a program for the spouses. You state that the source of funding for the proposed reimbursement would include interest earnings, rental income and "miscellaneous" sources. We assume that the spouses are neither officers nor employees of the IDA.

Section 856(2) of the General Municipal Law provides that "members [of an IDA] shall receive no compensation for their services but shall be entitled to the necessary expenses, including travel expenses, incurred in the discharge of their duties". Public Officers Law, §64 provides that every public officer who is not allowed any compensation "shall be paid his actual expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of his official duties". In 1979 Opns St Comp No. 79-574, p 109, this Office concluded that these statutory provisions authorize reimbursement of the actual and necessary travel expenses only of the IDA members or other uncompensated IDA officers and not of the spouses of such officials. We reached that conclusion because of the lack of specific statutory authority to pay for the travel expenses of a spouse (cf. General Municipal Law, §92-a authorizing municipalities to establish local health insurance plans for officers, employees "and their families"). It was our view that, even though we were informed that the spouses of the IDA members may often voluntarily participate at meetings and discussions with individuals who are contemplating locating a facility in the area, the statutes did not permit reimbursement of expenses incurred on behalf of spouses.

Opn No. 79-574, supra, still represents the views of the Office and applies equally to the proposed expenditures outlined in your letter. As is the case with IDA members and officers, there is no statutory authority to reimburse an executive director of an IDA for travel expenses incurred by his or her spouse. Moreover, since an IDA may expend its moneys, regardless of the source, only as authorized by statute (see Grossman v Herkimer County IDA, 60 AD2d 172, 400 NYS2d 623), these conclusions apply irrespective of whether the proposed source of the moneys to be used for reimbursement is public or private.

December 28, 1992
Samuel J. Nasca, Chairman
City of Hornell Industrial Development Agency