October 15, 2009
IN THE MATTER OF TRANSITIONAL SERVICES OF NEW YORK FOR LONG ISLAND, INC., RESPONDENT,
NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH ET AL., APPELLANTS.
The order of the Appellate Division, insofar as appealed from, should be reversed, with costs, and the petition, insofar as it seeks to annul the determination of the New York State Office of Mental Health dated April 19, 2004, dismissed.
Transitional Services of New York for Long Island, Inc. ("TSLI") is a private not-for-profit entity that provides housing and care to individuals with mental illness. Pursuant to statute (see Mental Hygiene Law §§ 41.38, 41.44), the New York State Office of Mental Health ("OMH") works with and provides state aid to entities like TSLI. TSLI commenced this article 78 proceeding to challenge two OMH determinations.
It is well settled that when an agency acts within its area of expertise in interpreting statutes it is responsible for administering, its construction of those statutes is to be upheld if its decision is not irrational or unreasonable (see e.g. Matter of Brooklyn Assembly Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses, Inc. v Department of Envtl. Protection of City of N.Y., 11 NY3d 327, 334 ). It was not irrational or unreasonable for OMH to determine that, for reimbursement purposes, under the Mental Hygiene Law and the regulations promulgated thereunder (see Mental Hygiene Law § 41.38; 14 NYCRR 595.12), the expenses TSLI incurred in leasing residential apartments it used as offices must be accounted for as operating costs rather than as housing costs. The Appellate Division's order to the contrary should be reversed.*fn1
Order, insofar as appealed from, reversed, with costs, and the petition, insofar as it seeks to annul the determination of the New York State Office of Mental Health dated April 19, 2004, dismissed, in a memorandum. Chief Judge Lippman and Judges Ciparick, Graffeo, Read, Smith, Pigott and Jones concur.