Albany-- The future of downtown Albany is in question. The main redevelopment leader is leaving town and it's unclear what role Albany Tomorrow Incorporated will play in the future of downtown.
ATI President and CEO Tommy Chatmon has accepted a job in Orlando, Florida as Executive Director of the Downtown Development Board and Community Redevelopment. Chatmon accepted the job Monday and informed Albany Tomorrow board members Wednesday morning.
He's still pushing for Albany Tomorrow to play a vital role in downtown development. The city's contract with ATI expires at the end of the month. Wednesday night, Chatmon asked the commission to renew that contract through 2011 at 150-thousand dollars per year.
City leaders proposed taking away 50-thousand dollars of that budget to hire an outside downtown manager. Chatmon says that would have an adverse impact on the future of ATI.
"That $50,000 represents possibly ten percent of our operating budget so when you lose ten percent of your budget, it's difficult. You have to make tough decisions, tough choices. I don't know yet what those choices will be," said Chatmon.
Commissioners did not make a decision Wednesday night. They have two other options. They could give sole responsibility of downtown development to the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority which would create a more focused relationship with the City Manager or they could continue their current relationship with ATI with the same budget of $150,000.
Commissioners Jon Howard and Dorothy Hubbard are in favor of continuing the current agreement with ATI. Commissioner Bob Langstaff stated that while he's all for downtown development, he doesn't see a value in giving ATI any money but would support it if money is given through SPLOST funds.
Commissioner Tommie Postell was split but would favor one over the other if certain changes are made.
Mayor Willie Adams also went on record as supporting the option of taking away $50,000 from ATI to hire a downtown manager. They'll have another meeting with Albany Tomorrow to come to a decision.