Fort McPherson authority to end this fiscal year in the red
By David Pendered
The state authority overseeing the conversion of Fort McPherson to civilian use doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills.
The authority expects to end its fiscal year this month owing a total of $145,207. The authority expects to end the year with a cash reserve of just under $25,000.
The shortfall represents about 9 percent of the authority’s $1.3 million budget. The figures are outlined in a budget report released Tuesday at a meeting of the Fort McPherson Local Implementing Redevelopment Authority.
“Everybody’s supportive, but money is scarce,” said Jack Sprott, the authority’s executive director.
Before anyone hits the panic button over a funding shortfall, it’s important to remember the reason the authority was created and how it has been funded.
The state Legislature created the authority to oversee the conversion of Fort McPherson from an Army base to civilian use after the military vacates the fort by Sept. 15.
The state provides in-kind support to the authority, Sprott said.
Atlanta also has provided funding over the years. Fulton County has not provided funding, although it does have representation on the authority.
The federal government provides the bulk of the authority’s funding. The Office of Economic Adjustment, which is part of the Defense Department, provides money and assistance to communities that are affected by the closure of a military base.
For example, the OEA is expected to provide almost $700,000 of the authority’s projected budget of about $1 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the budget shows.
Still, there’s something unsettling about red ink.
“It feels like we have a real urgent need to raise short term income capital now,” said board member Ayesha Khanna.
Board member Peggy McCormick said the budget shortfall figures illustrate the tight management of the state authority. McCormick knows something about shoestring budgets in the government sector, having served until last year as president of Atlanta’s development arm, the Atlanta Development Authority.
“It shows careful spending,” McCormick said of the Fort McPherson authority’s budget.
It also shows that law firms and the authority’s landlord have been willing to accept deferred payments for services and office space.
Law firms are owed a total of $113,599, according to the budget. Here’s the breakout:
- $54,110 to Garrity & Knisely, a Boston-based firm;
- $44,134 to Sutherland, an Atlanta firm;
- $15,355 to Greenberg Traurig, a Miami-based firm.
In addition, the budget lists outstanding payables for deferred compensation in the amount of $31,608, dating back to 2008.
An unspecified amount of rent is owed for office space rental to the Atlanta Development Authority. The Fort McPherson authority is housed in the headquarters of the ADA.
At some point in the future, the Fort McPherson authority is expected to become self-sufficient and not need direct government funding, Sprott said.
The authority is to take possession of the fort from the military, and make money by leasing or selling parts of the fort. The authority will own all the property on the fort until it is sold to private owners.
Three pieces of land already are slated to be converted after the fort closes. The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to provide medical services in a building at the former fort. Two credit unions will continue to function and serve the public.
“The concept is that in a few years we will be self sufficient,” Sprott said.