Where is $50K of ATI money? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Where is $50K of ATI money?

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The city of Albany gave Albany Tomorrow, Incorporated $50,000 of sales tax money to pay contractors, but they didn't.

This news comes just one day after the firing of Downtown Manager Don Buie.

Through an open records request, we obtained a letter written from city manager Al Lott to District Attorney Greg Edwards about money missing from Albany Tomorrow, Incorporated.

The money is due for projects ATI managed, Thronateeska Heritage Center and the Civil Rights Institute.

While the city forwarded the full amount to ATI to pay those contractors, that money was never paid in full to the contractors.

This of course comes on the heels of an investigation into ADICA finances and the firing of their director Don Buie.

A day after Downtown Manager and ADICA CEO Don Buie was fired, Asst. City Manager James Taylor takes on the task of putting the pieces back together, but this time with much more oversight.

"Develop operating guidelines and put in places control such that things that we believe have occurred won't occur again in the future or be less likely to occur," he said.

At the top of his list, making sure the board has direct oversight of all financial transactions that take place. "I think the board is obligated," said Taylor. "The board runs the company. It is the board's responsibility to oversee all that ADICA does. ADICA is the board. The CEO is simply the operator or the executor. They say do this, he does it. But he, or she, doesn't have any authority other than the authority g8ivn to them by the board."

And right now, those duties are not clear. There are no by-laws for the organization. Nothing that details how the day to day operations should run.

Business owner Bo Henry says the board and city should have been watching tax dollars closer all along. "The city is just as much as fault as our ADICA board and our ATI board. It's just a meltdown of the whole system of not watching and checking behind people and having some good systems in place to watch our tax dollars."

That's the kind of oversight Taylor says he'll put in place. "They have enormous responsibility. Not just operational, fiduciary. They need to know that."

And remember that $50,000 facade grant awarded to ADICA board member La'Juana Woods? I received a copy of her application today which specified the bounds where facade grants are allowed, and her restaurant doesn't qualify.

Because of that, ADICA may end up being forced to repay the city the money issued to her.

Former ATI Chairman C. W. Grant told WALB today he doesn't believe there was any illegal activity regarding that SPLOST money.

He says it's possible there was some mismanagement and other bills were paid with the money.


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