October 5, 2021
Dear Colleagues, Partners and Participants,
Since January, the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) worked diligently to correct and catch-up on the contractually required process to receive payments from our main funder, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Forced to implement austerity measures for much of the year to address cash flow deficiencies, WAC also did so to limit additional liabilities while a third-party audit was conducted of WAC’s financial records.
Despite noteworthy improvements for timely submittals and remittance of payments, as well as an overall audit conclusion that “Council was in compliance with the contractual requirements except for the questioned costs and findings…,” several deficiencies and material discoveries noted therein, reasonably justified City recommendations for greater oversight of public funds. Working under that premise, but in collective recognition of WAC’s critical role to the region and water supply, next steps include entering into a Monitor Agreement with the NYC Department of Investigations (DOI). While DOI typically leads anti-corruption efforts through systemic investigations, it also provides comprehensive recommendations aimed to improve operations, transparency and accountability. In that regard, WAC intends to move forward to improve processes, give ratepayers the assurances they deserve and to fully restore the programs our staff, partners and participants have worked so hard to create and maintain.
The Monitor Agreement also provides confidence that our next contract (CAT-503, $19M) is registered and available to bridge any potential financial shortfalls. Often noted as the “Easement” contract, CAT-503 funds a significant portion of WAC’s total operating budget. Guarantees here, along with the Council’s unwavering commitment to the farm and forest landowners they serve, will ensure WAC survives, thrives and is eventually stronger for it.
Thank you for your patience amidst what has proven to the most challenging, yet resilient year for the organization. While additional updates will be provided as soon as practicable, please feel free to contact me directly should you have any questions.
Ryan W. Naatz
WAC Interim Executive Director | (607) 865-7790 ext. 118 | [email protected]