Invest Atlanta enacts new rules to oversee development of BeltLine

By David Pendered

The city’s development arm, Invest Atlanta, today approved amendments to its operating agreement with the Atlanta BeltLine that detail the duties of each of the two partners in the public effort to build the BeltLine.

Historic Fourth Ward Park

The Old Fourth Ward Park represents the type of public amenity the city intends to promote in the corridor of the Atlanta BeltLine. Credit: Donita Pendered

Invest Atlanta has been working this year to clarify the line between duties it retains and those it delegates to the BeltLine’s board and its day-to-day management team.

The new rules are being enacted two months after Brian Leary, the BeltLine’s former president/CEO, was released as criticism of his oversight escalated. Leary has contended that he was operating within his authority.

Controversy over the BeltLine’s management erupted in June, following the release of an audit by city Auditor Leslie Ward. The audit raised major questions about the way BeltLine managers were spending taxpayer dollars. The BeltLine board announced Leary’s departure in August.

The audit also challenged the effectiveness of Invest Atlanta’s oversight of the city’s urban renewal programs that are paid for with property taxes collected in tax allocation districts.

This second amendment to the bylaws follow a sweeping revision of bylaws that Invest Atlanta approved in April. Invest Atlanta stated its purpose for this second amendment in this portion of the resolution adopted today:

  • Invest Atlanta now desires to amend and fully restate the Amended and Restated Services Agreement and enter into a second amended and restated services agreement (the “Second Amended and Restated Services Agreement”) to more thoroughly define services provided by ABI (Atlnata BeltLine, Inc.) and responsibilities retained by Invest Atlanta, including oversight and reporting.

This is the fact sheet issued by Invest Atlanta to describe the new duties:

Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

General Responsibilities

  • Implementation Progress;
  • Risk Management and Mitigation;
  • TAD Brand Support;
  • Implementation Records Retention and Maintenance;
  • Contractor Management and Compliance.

Programmatic Responsibilities

  • Program Management;
  • Project Planning and Design;
  • Community Engagement;
  • Public Infrastructure Construction and Management;
  • Real Estate Acquisition, Management and Disposition;
  • Financial Management and Operations Administration;
  • Public Information and Communications;
  • Cooperation and Coordination on Redevelopment Agent Services.

 

Invest Atlanta

General Responsibilities

  • Review and Approval of Major Decisions;
  • Public Entity Support;
  • Implementation Monitoring;
  • Advocacy Efforts;
  • Records Retention and Maintenance.

Programmatic Responsibilities:

  • TAD Management, Compliance, Financial Management and Reporting;
  • BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund Program;
  • Administration, Management and Reporting
  • Economic Development Program Support.

Click here to read the resolution proposing the new bylaws.

Click here to read the fact sheet on the new bylaws.

Click here to read a working draft of the revisions to the bylaws, which shows both the bylaws adopted in 2006 and the proposed changes. The original bylaws placed significant authority in the hands of the day-to-day managers who were charged with implementing the vision.

The changes in the bylaws of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. that were approved earlier this year are so expansive that the title page of the new document says it replaces, in their entirety, the initial bylaws approved in 2006.

Gone is the veil of independence that’s stated in the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s initial articles of incorporation. One section of the old bylaws reads:

  • “The corporation shall not be limited in its capacity of service to ADA, but shall have full power and authority to engage in charitable and/or public programs and activities on behalf of and for the benefit of ADA or the City.” (Article 3, Sect. e).

A central theme in the new bylaws is Invest Atlanta’s reach to strengthen its authority over Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Back in 2006, the stated goal of incorporating Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. was to create a stand-alone, non-profit corporation that would be nimble in implementing the BeltLine’s strategic vision.

However, the new bylaws do their part to promote that notion of authorizing quick action by BeltLine managers.

The expanded authority of the president/CEO provides for the position to take following actions without any prior approval: Spend up to $250,000, an increase from the previous spending cap of $100,000; increase compensation for board-approved contracts by up to 10 percent; sell real estate and to buy it – if the money is available in the budget.

BeltLine COO Lisa Gordon is serving as the BeltLine’s interim CEO. Korn/Ferry International, the search firm, is conducting the search for the BeltLine’s next top officer at no charge.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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