The Southeastern Economic Development Corp. recently released a 10-page document that outlines the changes it plans to make to its organizational structure, policies and procedures and operations in the light of a scathing audit of the agency released earlier this year.

The agency, which is currently under the leadership of consultant Brian Trotier while a committee searches for a new president, was hit by a wave of scandals this summer over its compensation and budgetary practices, as well as other issues.

The scandals culminated in the firing of SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith, an overhaul of the agency’s board, the release of the audit and, recently, the convening of a federal grand jury to investigate possible criminal charges resulting from SEDC’s actions.

SEDC’s response to the audit, which concluded that the agency’s compensation practices rose to a level of fraud, addresses each of the 33 recommendations put forward by the auditors.

We’ve written stories about many of the issues that were addressed by the audit and that have now been addressed by SEDC, so be sure to click on the links to learn more about why the proposed changes are important and necessary.

The highlights of SEDC’s response include:

  • Revamping SEDC’s governance structure, including amending the agency’s operating agreement with the city and providing better training for board members.
  • Creating a new position of SEDC chief financial officer.
  • Ensuring that the SEDC board approves all salary increases to the agency’s president.
  • Filling the long-vacant positions of SEDC manager of projects and development, and vice president of operations.
  • Ensuring proper record-keeping at the agency, including digitally recording all board meetings and making them available on SEDC’s website.
  • Revamping SEDC’s policies regarding paying employees for accrued leave.
  • Developing new policies regarding the payment of expenses to SEDC employees.
  • Amending SEDC’s merit pay policy, including setting maximum award amounts.
  • Amending SEDC’s consultant policy, including reducing the amount of contracts that the SEDC president can unilaterally award from $50,000 per contract to $25,000 per consultant, per fiscal year.
  • Limiting all supplemental income for SEDC employees to strictly controlled merit pay awards.
  • Ensuring that SEDC presents a monthly financial position report to its board of directors.
  • Ensuring cost of living increases are tied to the increase in the cost of living in the city.
  • Making its consultant selection process more transparent.

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