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UCDD on the hook for cost of LTD
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WALKER - photo by Photo by: Reed Vanderpool
A representative from the law firm hired by the Upper Cumberland Development District has informed UCDD directors that they may be in a sticky situation with the Living the Dream facility in Putnam County.Attorney Bob Walker related his findings concerning an internal investigation ordered by the UCDD board of directors at a board meeting Thursday.Walker told the board, consisting of county and city mayors and executives of the Upper Cumberland region, that the agency is facing the possibility of losing a great deal of money on the Living the Dream facility if it is not completed and populated with paying residents soon.Walker, of the Nashville-based law firm Walker, Tipps and Malone in presenting his findings to the board, told them that Askins and her deputy moved $900,000 into the Living the Dream project, much of it without board approval.In addition, a $750,000 bank loan was procured.Walker’s presentation included charts detailing how funds were moved around so that the UCDD board did not really know or have any control over what was going on.Walker pointed out many specific procedures which were not followed on the LTD project, including the lack of a feasibility study and the absence of financial controls, a construction budget and an operations budget.Walker told members that if the project is not completed the property would be relinquished to the bank, leaving the agency at a loss for entire cost of the project."If you just went to a fire sale with it in the morning, you might lose all of this," Walker said.Board members were obviously unhappy with the situation."I wonder how much were we told truth and how much were we not told truth," Smith County Mayor Michael Nesbitt remarked. "It's kind of alarming to me, as a board member, all the things that went on behind the scenes that we did not know about."DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster also expressed his frustration, saying that trust had been lost and would be hard to recover."We trusted people in this organization to do the right thing and to tell us the truth and follow procedures," Foster said. "I'm not going to say they didn't, but my trust is gone.