Tag Archives: open records request

Industrial Authority Defensive about Minutes

Could the Industrial Authority try any harder to make it look like they’ve got something to hide? Of all things to go to the mattresses about: their board minutes?

The VDT picked up on our series about a local citizen being overcharged for an open records request for VLCIA agendas and minutes. In a front page Sunday VDT story, David Rodock reports:

In response, The Valdosta Daily Times submitted their own Open Records Request for the salaries of all Industrial Authority employees.

According to the information provided by the Authority, the lowest paid fulltime employee, the Operations Manager, is paid an annual salary of $46,526.

When this number is divided by 2080, (52 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week) it shows that the lowest paid full-time employee is making $22.40 per hour.

The salary quoted on the invoice is not the same as either Continue reading

Five hours of staff time to copy agendas and minutes?

Why does it take someone paid $24.23 an hour to convert agendas and minutes to PDF?

Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority, VLCIA, Open Records Request, Bobbi Anne Hancock asked Allan Ricketts why a bunch of agendas and minutes should cost $125.09? She received back this itemized invoice:


Apparently the lowest paid VLCIA employee who can convert documents to PDF is paid $24.23 an hour. According to Georgia Code 50-18-71: Continue reading

VLCIA charging for access to agendas and minutes

How much should it cost for a citizen to get access to agendas and minutes of a tax-funded board? How does about $2 per meeting strike you?

Bobbi Anne Hancock filed an open records request for the agendas and minutes of all regularly scheduled and called meetings of the VLCIA letter asking $125.09 for copies of agendas and minutes of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) from 2006 to the present, and got this letter back:

So at 12 meetings per year for five years plus another 3 months, that would be about 63 meetings, divided into $125.09 gets about $1.99 per meeting.

Is this normal practice? Let’s compare. Continue reading

VDT says VLCIA illegally made up a document

Today’s editorial in the VDT is Another Industrial Authority misstep refers to the VDT article and editorial of Sunday, and continues:
The reporter who conducted the interview with Industrial Authority Project Manager Allen Ricketts has been subsequently repeatedly contacted by Ricketts for what he deems “false reporting.” According to Ricketts, the timeline was never official and was only something the Industrial Authority threw together to appease the Times when given an official Open Records Request. Ricketts is apparently unaware that legally he cannot produce a document that does not exist to comply with said request. If he knowingly did so, as he now claims, that is a clear violation of the Open Records Act.
Presumably that would be the “Project Critical Path time-line is attached” that wasn’t actually attached to documents returned for an open records request of 17 February 2011. Hm, since VLCIA did supply such a document to the VDT, presumably it is now a VLCIA document subject to open records request, even though it was not what VLCIA told VDT it was.

Back to the VDT editorial: Continue reading

VLCIA Bonds: $15M becomes $23.5M?

How much are those bonds VLCIA has committed we the taxpayers to?

According to VLCIA’s FYE 2011 Annual Financial Report it looks like the bonds started out as about $15,000,000, and are

If I’m reading that right (I am not a CPA), VLCIA took out about $15M in bonds for which they will pay back a total of about $23.5M. Is that really $8.5M in debt service, or about 56% of the original principal? Is that a good deal VLCIA has made with we the taxpayers’ money?

Meanwhile, VLCIA has

That’s an interesting number to contemplate while other arms of local government are scraping to pay salaries and provide services. One of those other arms of local government is the Lowndes County Commission, which appears to be co-guarantor for those bonds.


VLCIA “inter-governmental funding agreement” with Lowndes County

If Lowndes County funds VLCIA and helps secure its bonds, how can the Lowndes County Commission have no control over VLCIA?

In Note A: Summary of Significant Accounting Policies of VLCIA’s FYE 2011 Annual Financial Report:

Reporting Entity

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority is a political subdivision created by the State of Georgia Legislature to stimulate growth in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area. The Authority’s revenues are derived primarily from contributions by local governnments and by the sale of land in the industrial development parks owned by the Authority.

Well, the VLCIA’s charter is available on the web and it doesn’t just say “growth”; it also says “the public good” and “the general welfare” of the community.

The financial report continues:

The members of the Industrial Authority are appointed by both the City Council of the City of Valdosta and the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. Primary operating funding, as well as guarantees for certain bonds, comes from the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners and accordingly, the Authority is considered to be economically dependent on Lowndes County.
The first sentence is correct. If the second sentence is correct, how can the Lowndes County Commission say it has no control over or responsibility for the Industrial Authority?

Further, in Note F: Long Term Debt:

The bonds are secured by an “inter-governmental” funding agreement between the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority and Lowndes County, Georgia.
If the Lowndes County government is co-guarantor of VLCIA’s bonds, how can the Lowndes County Commission say it has no responsibility or control over what VLCIA does? I am not a CPA, but the term “fiduciary responsibility” comes to mind. These bonds are, after all, being paid for by our tax dollars, and the Board of Commissioners are our elected representatives for the county.

How big are those bonds, anyway? See the next post.


VLCIA Annual Financial Report FYE 30 June 2011

Where does that $3 million a year in VLCIA tax revenue go?

In the Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2011, for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA), there are some interesting assertions, and some really interesting dollar figures. These documents were obtained by open records request February 2011 and given to LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

See the following posts about the “inter-governmental agreement” between VLCIA and Lowndes County and about the size of the bonds and debt servicing VLCIA has committed to. And of course read the report for yourself and see what you think.


Still no suppliers or buyers for Wiregrass Power LLC –VLCIA

According to an open records request of 17 February 2011, the Industrial Authority says Wiregrass Power LLC still
“has not yet identified or completed a comprehensive list of potential suppliers of raw materials, goods and services required to construct and operate the biomass electric generating plant.”
This is on a sheet entitled “Owners/Investors/Suppliers/Contracts”, which also says:
“Site preparation and construction is not scheduled to begin until June 1, 2011.”
Hm, what happened to breaking ground in January 2011? The document also said a “Project Critical Path time-line is attached” but it wasn’t.

Regarding buyers for the plant’s power: Continue reading

VLCIA operating budget

Apparently VLCIA collects $3 million in tax revenues annually and pays about $368,000 in staff salaries and benefits, plus $125,000 in legal and accounting costs, as well as other items in general operations. This is according to VLCIA’s Operating Budget (FYE 30 June 2011), obtained by open records request in February 2011, and given to LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange. Look for yourself; here it is in PDF and two different single-page forms.