ADICA board members in cleanup mode - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

ADICA board members in cleanup mode

By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There were more revelations Wednesday about the financial mess at the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority. Turns out the board never approved a budget for the last fiscal year. They also found out about more under the table promises the former Executive Director made. They may also be in for a fight to get back rent from one business owner who had a shady deal.

After calls for current Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority board members to resign, board chair Jane Wilson made it clear at the start of Wednesday evening's meeting. "Now is not the time to throw out the baby with the bathwater," said Wilson.

Wilson says the board should stay but she admits there's a lot of work to do. "We as an ADICA board found ourselves in the middle of a mess," said Wilson.

It's a mess that interim ADICA Director James Taylor is trying to clean up. "It's going fairly well. You know you move something you find something else, so that's a challenge," said Taylor.

He continues to hear about more empty promises and shady dealings of ousted Downtown Manager and ADICA Director Don Buie. "I suspect that it will be some time before we've seen and heard it all," said Taylor.

The latest discovery comes from the owner of the future Downtown Bistro who says he spent half a million dollars on renovations with the promise from Buie of up to $100,000 in façade grants and even a 10-year tax abatement. "I can believe that is true because it's happened enough that it seems to be some validity that it likely happened," said Taylor.

But ADICA has no more money for façade grants in the budget because much was given unlawfully. "They started to be used for things greater than facades," said Taylor.

$50,000 of that money went to ADICA board member LaJuana Woods for her business venture in East Albany. In an email to Taylor she wrote, "It is not my intent nor that of my business to participate in any known form of unlawful activity. Since it has been determined the façade grants were not lawfully issued I have decided to return all grant funds."  Woods plan to make monthly payments until it is fully repaid by August of 2010.    

"We may have offered dreams we shouldn't have offered," said Taylor.

Members also learned Wednesday that the owner of Dollar Square who had a secret deal with Buie to pay almost no rent now wants to break his lease. He'll be ordered to vacate the property promptly and pay back façade money and back rent.

"When I finish, this is going to be a well oiled machine," said Taylor. The work is just beginning to get things back on track. "This organization has the capability to do some great things for the city of Albany," said Taylor. Board members plan to stay for the long haul.

Since ADICA has an agreement with the county for the Dollar Square building, they now owe the county between 12 and $14,000. They'll also have to pay for changes Buie ordered to one property to attract Alltel even though that company now doesn't have plans to move in.

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