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Mayor Jerry Sanders wants more control of the city’s two nonprofit redevelopment agencies beyond having the power to hire and fire the top executives (with City Council approval). All told, he’s got 19 recommendations for reigning in the agencies.

Taken together, the recommendations have two primary effects: They increase the mayor and City Council’s accountability for any future problems at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. and the Centre City Development Corp., while further stripping away the nonprofits’ autonomy.

The mayor’s plan would require the agencies to submit all of their internal contracts and fiscal policies to the city’s chief financial officer for approval, a move that significantly tightens City Hall’s ability to control their everyday activities.

The mayor (with City Council approval) could also remove board members who don’t follow their agency’s operating bylaws.

Other recommendations seem obvious. Like No. 17: The agency should follow redevelopment law.

“Following redevelopment law was always assumed, but this makes it codified,” said Rachel Laing, a Sanders spokeswoman.

Among the others:

  • Giving the city the right to order annual performance audits paid for by the nonprofits.
  • Giving the city the right to inspect all documents and records, including personnel and financial records, within 10 days of the city’s written request.
  • Requiring the agencies to perform and submit annual financial audits to ensure that money is being spent appropriately and in line with their budgets. These are different from performance audits, which specifically look at how the agency is upholding its mission.
  • Requiring each agency’s board to approve all compensation to senior officers, including salary, benefits and bonuses. Carolyn Smith, the former SEDC president, was able to award herself hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses without board approval.

Two recommendations are specific to SEDC. The mayor called for implementing all recommendations (except one) from the SEDC performance audit, which found that the redevelopment authority’s hidden system of bonuses and extra compensation rose “to the level of fraud.”

ROB DAVIS

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