In spite of his claims to the contrary, City Manager Alfred Lott was directly responsible for a $50,000 grant awarded to an Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority board member and at least $61,000 in additional unauthorized expenditures that are now part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe, public records show.
Lott spent at least $102,000 of the $500,000 bond-issue advance on “normal operating expenses” including a carelessly administered grant program for ADICA, says city Finance Director Kris Newton, rather than the funds’ purpose: “Capital expenditures (including purchasing options on downtown real estate), all so as to begin its efforts at redevelopment”, records show.
Public records contradict Lott’s public claim that he is not accountable for mismanagement that occurred on his watch by downtown manager Don Buie, Lott’s employee. Rather, Lott says, ADICA board members Jane Willson, Lajuana Woods, Andrew Reid, Phil Cannon, Elvis Muldrow, James Griffin and LaNicia Hart are to blame for Buie’s misuse of taxpayer funds.
Lott fired Buie on July 29, weeks after the GBI began a probe into whether Buie received a kickback from a girlfriend who was on his payroll. The ADICA board last week rejected Cannon’s request to require restaurateur Woods to repay the $50,000 grant she received from Buie despite her being on the board and her business being outside ADICA’s boundaries,
Newton says another $9,000 of funds for which Lott is responsible was spent without proper documentation. Meanwhile, additional funds mismanaged by Buie were approved by Lott through his downtown manager’s account, records show.
Lott, who refused to answer questions on the matter Tuesday, was granted specific oversight of the $500,000 advanced to ADICA from $6 million the city expects to receive in an upcoming bond issue. The “Intergovernmental Agreement Concerning Redevelopment of Downtown Albany Between City of Albany and Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority,” signed by Mayor Willie Adams on Sept. 2, 2008, established the framework for the City to advance ADICA $500,000.
Paragraph 3 of the contract states: “Following the City’s advance of any part or all of the Funds, ADICA will provide on a monthly basis a written description of the use of any funds; as well as an accounting of the Funds, all as the City Manager in his reasonable judgment may determine is necessary or appropriate. The accounting shall provide such reasonable detail as necessary to show how amounts received by ADICA have been spent”.
Newton says Buie spent $102,846.81 of the $500,000 advance. Of that, Buie paid ADICA board member Lajuana Woods $50,000 on April 23; Dollar Square $11,114 on April 24; and Subway $22,246 on June 8, records show.
Albany businessman Tim Coley asked city officials on Tuesday to provide further explanation of records detailing Buie’s business dealings with ADICA and City Manager’s Office funds.
“I am prepared to present this in the form of an open records requests if required,” Coley wrote to Newton, who hadn’t responded Tuesday night. “However, I prefer that the City simply help us understand. We have a meeting planned for Thursday night and hopefully your response will help me provide the citizens with a better understanding of how ADICA is funded.”
In response to an earlier inquiry about the $500,000 advance, Newton said: ADICA used these funds to pay a combination of normal operating expenses (that would be reimbursed by the City of Albany or some other entity) and façade grant activity. Façade grant activity makes up the larger expenses.”
Written by Kevin Hogencamp.