August 18, 2018 10:38:10 PM
Questions LINK accountability
With respect to your feature story about the city of Columbus withdrawing support for the LINK, I applaud the city for requesting accountability and voting with taxpayers' pocketbooks in mind. It is unclear whether there is, or has been, appropriate accountability over the LINK. Their IRS-filed Forms 990 for several of the past years (publicly available documents) show some odd spending (e.g., $25,000 per year for "health club dues of key employee"), indicate that they have no formal conflict of interest policy, and show zero hours a week of board involvement. With respect to the board of directors' involvement, it appears that either the tax return is wrong or the board is not performing its fiduciary duties. The City Chief Operations Officer in today's article said there was no accountability on spending and a cursory review of the IRS-filed LINK tax returns would support that statement. It is also not clear how the LINK properly complies with the IRS requirements of its 501(c)(6) tax status -- including the impacts of having separate (and potentially conflicting) arrangements with other parties. Where is the oversight for potential conflicts of interest? What is the county doing to request and review fiscal accountability? What do the cumulative results of the LINK truly show? What is the actual return on investments -- in fact-based dollars not anecdotal stories? Taxpayer dollars are extremely hard-earned and the LINK spending should have both transparency and accountability.
Susan B. Morris
Editor's note: The letter writer is a member of a family who filed an appeal of a Starkville zoning change. The zoning change was an important step in creating an industrial park adjacent to the family's property. A circuit court judge upheld the zoning change, allowing the LINK-backed project to proceed. The ruling has been appealed to the state Court of Appeals.