Originally created 09/22/99

Official threatens to resign from board



Augusta commissioners refused to approve $49,999 for start-up costs for the Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp. on Tuesday, and Mayor Pro Tem Lee Beard, a member of that board, said the corporation will move on without the city.

Mr. Beard threatened to resign from that board because City Attorney Jim Wall contends it is a conflict of interest for him to vote on commission issues affecting the corporation.

The $49,999 is part of $1 million of federal money from the city's housing and neighborhood development department the commission has committed to the corporation. But city officials don't want to hand over the money until they sign a contract with the corporation spelling out exactly how the money will be used in order to comply with U.S. Housing and Urban Development guidelines, said City Administrator Randy Oliver.

Commissioner Bill Kuhlke moved to have action deferred until a contract with the scope of services can be completed and approved by commissioners.

"I'm saying we don't pass any monies through this commission until we have a contract," Mr. Kuhlke said.

Mr. Beard, who had been given Mr. Wall's opinion in writing shortly before Tuesday's commission meeting, asked Mr. Wall for clarification.

"And since your ruling, I think I should resign from the board of ANIC if this is your ruling, which it is," Mr. Beard said. "You know, to me it's still picking and choosing what we're going to do ...

"On the CVB board, just a month ago, a subcommittee divided $156,000 among groups in this city, and two commissioners sat on that board, and they voted. I'm on the hospital board, and I vote on that board, and we subsidize it. I can't understand it ...."

Mr. Wall said each agency's structure is different.

"First of all, you have HUD regulations that come into play that do not come into play with the hospital board or the CVB board that you mentioned," Mr. Wall said. "The other thing is that the ANIC board was appointed by the mayor. It was not approved by the commission. They are not responsive to the commission. The only thing that gives the commission oversight over ANIC is the contract."

Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp. initially will help find government and private funding for groups working to provide low- and middle-income housing in the Laney-Walker district.

The agency will oversee $6 million to $8 million in funding for the district.