Audit raises concerns about Beltline spending



ATLANTA - A recent audit by the city of Atlanta has raised concerns about some expenses on the Beltline development project.

The Beltline is a 22-mile loop around the city connecting more than 40 in-town neighborhoods with walking trails, parks and eventually, by either light rail or streetcars. Channel 2 Action News has learned city leaders are discussing possible fallout over the way Beltline leaders spent taxpayer money.

The Beltline is supposed to spend taxpayer money on redeveloping key parts of the city. For example, millions of dollars were spent to convert a foreclosed southeast Atlanta property into affordable housing, but the audit showed some of the money also paid for a parking ticket and dry cleaning.

Channel 2 Action News also obtained receipts showing $300 in Beltline money spent at a steak house for Beltline CEO Brian Leary and three of his deputies. The biannual meeting has since been canceled, Beltline officials said.

Another pair of receipts showed a $250 dinner and $57 billed to taxpayers for alcohol, but Beltline officials said the alcohol payment has been reimbursed.

Leary declined to comment on the findings, but the Beltline Board Chairman and the head of Invest Atlanta, the city’s development agency, sent statements saying new expense policies are in place for better oversight and transparency. Invest Atlanta is now doing its own investigation.

"We're still trying to understand the size and scope of the problem, so we're still looking at receipts, still looking at what needs to be reimbursed," Invest Atlanta CEO Brian McGown said.

A source told Channel 2’s John Bachman that city leaders are discussing a possible change at the top of the Beltline. Beltline supporters told Bachman project leaders need to be held accountable.

“The folks that are wasting the money on restaurants, they need to let those people go,” Beltline supporter Suzanne Grozanick said.

Channel 2 Action News

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