Will the city settle or question Cutliff Grove resources? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Will the city settle or question Cutliff Grove resources?

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The Albany City Commission is scheduled to decide Tuesday night whether to allow a non-profit group that failed to build a taxpayer-backed housing project to settle with the city for an exchange of land.    

Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center received $364,000 to build low to moderate income apartments on Broad Avenue, but that never happened.   The city had to pay that money back to the federal government, but so far, has not gone after Cutliff Grove to repay the money.

The land in question is worth, according to tax records, about $74,000, though Cutliff Grove paid $95,000 for the property in 2006.  The money that the city gave to Cutliff Grove, about $364,000.  So if commissioners agree to the settlement, that's a big difference, and taxpayers will take a big hit.

Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta was the guest speaker at Dougherty County Kiwanis Monday.  One of the issues he discussed, the Cutliff Grove settlement, which he opposes.

He said, "I voted against the settlement because, as I said before, that they could have contributed some cash to the settlement."

Judy Varnell agrees with Marietta.  She said, "I am shocked that our tax money was spent so frivolously and we have nothing to show for it and from what I hard today, there's very little likelihood that we're going to sue anyone."

The city attorney has told commissioners that the city also holds blame in the project not being developed, and that's why the city has little recourse.  With nothing to show for the project, Varnell questions where the money went.  "I do not understand," she said.  "Undoubtedly, the money went somewhere and those that got the money, they should pay it back."

Varnell hopes people will call their commissioners and show up at the meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns.  She said, "Apathy is what's wrong with the country right now and we've got to speak up and say what we think.  Otherwise, we have no say-so, we just say y'all take all this money we pay you every year and just blow it any way you want and that's not right."

And that's why Marietta is hoping he'll gain the votes of other commissioners Tuesday in voting against the settlement.  A facebook group has been established encouraging people to pack the commission meeting.  The problem is, people who want to speak for or against the settlement may not have the chance.  Those who wish to address the commission were required to sign up last week.    

The city commission will vote on the settlement agreement Tuesday night during the regularly called commission meeting at 7:30.

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