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State audit reveals CNY Regional Market improperly managed finances

A woman in a t-shirt fills plastic bags with fresh produce as she stands behind tables of produce.
Scott Willis
A vendor at the CNY Regional Market fills an order Aug. 3, 2023.

An audit by the state comptroller’s office reveals the Central New York Regional Market Authority improperly managed its finances.   

In his report, comptroller Tom DiNapoli says expenses outpaced revenues, resulting in deficits reaching more than $400,000 if lease revenues aren’t increased. The report also shows the authority’s Board of Directors did not develop and adopt realistic budgets, and administrators failed to properly monitor or control payroll. For example, DiNapoli says the board approved and paid the former executive director, the current director’s father, more than $200,000 over three years for unexplained special projects. 

In addition, the comptroller says the board failed to conduct a thorough analysis prior to buying a $2.3 million vacant warehouse that is not generating income. The warehouse needs major repairs, but DiNapoli says the board neglected to get estimates or secure long-term lease commitments. The authority would need an estimated $3.2 million to repair it.

Auditors made more than a dozen recommendations to the authority to improve its financial outlook, including taking immediate measures to reduce spending, increase revenues, or both. In response to the audit, the board president said the authority agreed with the financial findings and is acting on the recommendations.

In an email, Authority Executive Director Amanda Vitale released this response:

We appreciate the New York State Comptroller’s Office for taking the time to review our records and provide feedback and recommendations for improving some of our business practices. Unfortunately, the audit period encompasses a period of time that includes the onset and expanse of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a transition period from an Executive Director of 22 years to a brand new Executive. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Authority was forced to close a portion of its operations, resulting in the loss of more than a quarter of a million dollars of the Authority’s annual revenue. The Authority operates with a budget that is only slightly more than $2 million annually, operates with no outside funding, is restricted from eligibility for most grant opportunities, and is unable to generate revenue through sources such as donations and fundraising. This loss throughout the pandemic, in addition to the stress of managing a fifty acre facility that is largely original to its 1930s construction, was a huge stressor to the Authority. However, the Authority’s Board of Directors and management staff have been actively working to invest the Authority’s limited resources into facility improvements, and making improvements to the Authority’ s policies and procedures in order to improve all business operations to the level of best practice as recommended by the New York State Comptroller’s Office. The Board of Directors has also been diligently working on a corrective action plan resolution that is scheduled to be voted on for adoption and implementation at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors, scheduled to be held on Monday, June 3, 2024 at 6:00 PM.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at