Audit questions motive of sales

Albany

Albany’s economic development arm has spent more than $1 million to buy or control city-owned property with “no intended purpose,” according to a new review by state watchdogs that raises the question of whether the sales were made simply to bolster city coffers.

The Authorities Budget Office, which was formed to more closely scrutinize the operations of often opaque public authorities, also questions the Capitalize Albany Corp.’s apparent subsidy — at an annual cost that could run as high as $160,000 — of the daily operations of the city’s planning and development agencies.

While the audit didn’t unearth anything believed to be illegal, it highlights the tangled financial relationships between the city and Capitalize Albany, a private, membership-driven organization run by the city’s planning and development commissioner.

“There’s nothing wrong with the CAC and the city of Albany having a close working relationship,” the budget office’s director, David Kidera, said. But “it raises the question: Was the (CAC) board here representing the interests of the organization or was it really doing the city’s bidding?”

Specifically, the ABO questioned Capitalize Albany’s acquisition from the city in 2002 and 2003 of six vacant properties near the city-owned Palace Theatre on Clinton Avenue. The report says Capitalize ………..

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