Agency can find funds

Why should public money have to pay for private mistakes?

That’s the question we were asking after the Fulton County supervisors voted 11-8 on Monday to spend $40,000 to help the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth recover $3 million.

The CRG – the parent company of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. and the Crossroads Incubator Corp. – is engaged in an ongoing legal effort to recover the money from fired agency executives Jeff Bray and Peter A. Sciocchetti.

Federal income tax returns from 2010 showed Bray, former Fulton County EDC senior vice president, and Sciocchetti, former Crossroads executive vice president, received about $1.5 million apiece in bonuses their boards of directors later said were not approved.

We support the CRG’s attempt to get the money back, which could help economic development in Fulton County.

However, the CRG should not rely on taxpayers. The organization has maintained it is a private agency -not a public one – and should find some other means of paying for its legal expenses.

In October, Fulton County and the CRG announced a stronger partnership involving more accountability and more funding. Officials at the time said the EDC and CIC were facing financial difficulties and would be dissolved. The county later increased its annual taxpayer allocation to the CRG from $25,000 to $75,000 for 2013. The CRG developed a new business development marketing plan for the county. Two county supervisors – Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan and Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Ponticello – are now voting members of the CRG Board of Directors. The partnership also makes the CRG more accountable to the county, and the Board of Supervisors has had an increased role in governance of the CRG.

While that all sounds good, there is still no guarantee this oversight will work any better for the private agency.

Fulton County already was doing enough to help the local economic development agency succeed. The agency should seek to recoup its losses without more money from taxpayers.