January 28, 2021
The Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) has been going through a critical transition period since the beginning of November 2020. Both the Council Chair and WAC Executive Director resigned simultaneously, and an Interim Executive Director, Ryan Naatz, was appointed by WAC. Bud Gladstone has been nominated and appointed as Council Chair effective January 26, 2021. The Council is confident in WAC’s ability to continue its critical watershed programming during this transition, but austerity measures must be taken and some activities will be scaled back.
Under the previous administration’s leadership, WAC did not effectively or efficiently follow the contractually-required process to receive payments from our main funder, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP). As a result, WAC has fallen behind with multiple contract payment submissions and is now in a critical cash-flow position. WAC’s current leadership transition team has been working diligently with NYC DEP and partner agencies to identify acceptable short-term funding options that would minimize disruptions to the services we provide.
WAC staff will continue their responsibility to fulfill contract deliverables with NYC DEP while accounting for the need to pause or slow down certain program activities. Farm interactions with all staff will continue following CDC COVID-19 guidelines. Because of the cash-flow deficiencies, WAC will be limiting program implementation; including Best Management Practices (BMPs), Nutrient Management Credit (NMC) reimbursements and other activities that may require additional funding. WAC anticipates operating on an austerity budget for the remainder of calendar year 2021 as steps are taken to correct the financial accounting mistakes that were made in previous years.
WAC and NYC DEP are committed to working together to solve these problems. We are actively seeking a better process to request and transfer future funds to continue the water quality programs that WAC has been implementing for more than 28 years. During the next several months, there will be a third-party audit conducted of WAC’s internal financial processes and procedures, as required and directed by NYC DEP. In addition, WAC has developed its own Corrective Action Plan to resolve some immediate internal deficiencies and chart a proactive course for improved organizational operations, including greater accountability and oversight for the use of restricted public funds. Collectively, these steps will help determine the corrective actions needed and the time period when we can resume the routine implementation of WAC’s programs.
We will look to provide additional updates as soon as they are available. Thank you for your understanding. If you need immediate assistance please feel free to contact me.
WAC Interim Executive Director | (607) 865-7790 ext. 118