Beltline officials paying back ‘inappropriate’ expenses

Helluva wake-up call for smart-growth project

Top honchos with Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit tasked with planning and developing the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and (one day) transit, have started reimbursing taxpayers for questionable expenses including wedding gifts, booze, and dry cleaning. Writes Greg Bluestein, who first reported the story:

On Wednesday, the Beltline said it has also reimbursed the city for a $71 taxpayer-funded wedding gift in January 2011 for Beltline staffer Richard Lutch purchased by Leary in January 2011 at the Etu Moana Beach Villas in the Cook Islands. They didn’t immediately say what the gift was.

In all, the Beltline said it has reimbursed the city about $750 for “inappropriate” taxpayer-funded expenses, but it said the tally could grow as its investigation continues.

Elected officials have expressed outrage! and shock! over the expenditures. Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell, who sits on the ABI board of directors, wants to review the county’s participation in the project. Officials have kept mum over whether project leaders should resign, though that seems (to me, at least) unlikely. Still, it’s a wake-up call for the smart-growth project.