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City to consider ADICA budget

ALBANY -- As the former downtown manager and CEO of the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority closes out his second full day in jail after surrendering himself on theft and conspiracy charges, his interim replacement went before city leaders asking for help to fund obligations left in Don Buie's wake.

Buie, who was named last week in a 17-count indictment, remains locked away at the Dougherty County Jail awaiting a bond hearing. Clerks of Superior Court Yvonne Mull said Tuesday that no one had filed the paperwork to defend Buie with her office.

Meanwhile, Interim ADICA CEO and Downtown Manager James Taylor asked the city commission to consider funding a bare-bones budget for the remaining nine months of the fiscal year, which includes items obligated under Buie's tenure as the authority's executive.

With ADICA board members Andrew Reid, Phil Cannon and Elvis Mudrow present in the audience, Taylor told the commission that ADICA still owed the Dougherty County Commission more than $14,000 in back rent for the space that Buie sublet to Dollar Square owner Tim Washington, who was indicted alongside Buie.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis has said that he believes the county commission would allow him to terminate the lease agreement they have with ADICA early, if they can turn the space back over to the county and pay up the back rent they owe.

Taylor and ADICA is also struggling to pay legal fees that were incurred both as a result of the situation with Buie and other litigation that may include a legal challenge to the issuance of $6 million in bonds for downtown development.

In total, Taylor was seeking more than $100,000 from the commission to get the organization through until July 1, when a new fiscal year would start.

ADICA is struggling based largely on a lack of revenue streams. Its main source of income is derived from the issuance of bonds, which it collects one-eighth of 1 percent of the total value of the bond as a fee. Closing on the $6 million downtown redevelopment bonds is expected on Oct. 27, although ADICA can draw no revenue from that money until it is spent, which will require authorization from the city commission.

ADICA also generates a small bit of revenue from renting Veterans Park, Taylor said.

After discussion, City Manager Alfred Lott offered a recommendation that his office and staff be given the opportunity to whittle out what he termed the "essential costs" and obligations the authority is facing -- such as the back rent and the legal fees -- and come to the commission with a request for those funds, while continuing to put together a complete budget for ADICA to be presented to the commission at a later date.

That motion was recognized and made by the commission and it was tentatively accepted. It will formally be discussed and adopted at the city's business meeting next week.

Meanwhile, Buie attempted to appeal Georgia Department of Labor's denial of his unemployment benefits request, but was denied after he failed to file a timely appeal.

In documents obtained through an Open Records Act request from the city of Albany, Buie said that while he was told he was fired for "lack of financial judgment," Buie believed he was fired for political reasons.

Buie contends that he was never told that he violated any policy, rule or order before he was terminated, a charge that the city's human resources department refutes in its response to the Georgia Department of Labor inquiry.

Filed Sept. 21, the request for an appeal was made from a Lithonia address with a Monroe telephone number given as contact information, documents show, but because it was filed more than 15 days after the initial judgment, it was summarily dismissed and the original ruling confirmed.

In his statement to the Unemployment Division, Buie said that he was never given an opportunity to explain himself and why some files did not have certain documents and why other's did.

"I did nothing wrong," he said. "Mr. Alferd (sic), the city manager, told me to quit or be discharged because there were things (missing) in the file that should have been (there) and I told him that we can call the customers and get those documents and he said that he did not want to wait for that."

In their response to his initial claim, the state rejected Buie's claim. It stated: "Your employer fired you for violating rules when you failed to support insufficient documentation on reimbursements. The facts show that you were made aware of your employer's requirements and did not follow them, therefore, you cannot be paid unemployment benefits."

All of the documents provided to The Herald were dated before Buie was indicted.

Buie surrendered himself at the Dougherty County Jail shortly before 2 a.m. Monday. GBI officials said Buie had contacted them earlier in the week and said he would be returning from Baltimore to surrender.