An outside independent auditor assesses our accounting books every year. The current one who is tasked with this state required duty is Mauldin and Jenkins out of Marietta, GA. The document that they produce is called a CAFR. Our very powerful development board (BIDA) should be independent and able to make a profit. But they are not.
Here were my comments at the March 18, 2019 Council Meeting:
"On page ii of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, it says, 'The financial reporting entity (the "City") includes all the funds of the primary government, as well as its component unit, the College Park Business and Industrial Development Authority (BIDA), which is reported as a blended component unit...' It goes on to say that, 'Component units are legally separate entities.'"
"It doesn't seem that BIDA and the City are actually acting as legally separate entities."
"Then on page 32 of the same document, it says, 'The City (mayor and council) can impose its will on BIDA and is providing significant resources to fund BIDA activities. Separate financial statements for BIDA are not prepared."
"If the arena, or as a matter of fact, any financial deal held by BIDA, needs more money, I think it should be asking BIDA for it, since BIDA is carrying the 36 million dollar bond debt with Suntrust Bank and since $9 million dollars was transferred from city accounts to BIDA for the specific purposes of the arena. Furthermore, BIDA should have its own checking account, funds should not be blended with City accounts, and BIDA should be made to pay its own way. In the past, BIDA has paid their own way but now they routinely require subsidy from the city. BIDA has the authority to buy and sell real estate. They are like a real estate company with essentially no overhead. And BIDA is entitled to about $2 million out of the Hotel/Motel Tax per year (Tourism Product Development funds). They are also entitled to some of the car rental tax, which in total equates to about $3.5 million per year. I am not saying that the GICC campus has to make a profit. But BIDA should be able to make a profit. The debt they have, which totals over $200 million dollars, was taken up by them as Revenue Bonds. This means that they are supposed to be generating revenue from what they built with the bond money in order to pay the interest and principal on those bonds. One way to improve BIDA would be to make it an independent body that has less political influence by removing the extra councilperson from the BIDA board, the way, in fact, that BIDA was originally intended to be. This would require that there be two at-large appointments to fill the six-citizen board, one appointed by the mayor and one decided on by, perhaps, the entire governing body. This also requires committed citizens with various skills who are willing to serve and make independent decisions as well."
What should BIDA do with this land by Charles Phillips Park? Should it be used as a recreation center/technical college campus or should it be developed for profit? Whatever happens, it needs a non-motorized connection to downtown College Park / MARTA. See Infrastructure Plan along Herschel Road and Roosevelt Highway.