Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has released the findings of an audit of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and it does not look good. The Mayor’s office said the findings show “several facets of the BRA’s structure and operations that are in dire need of reform” and that the agency is “less efficient, responsive, and accountable to the public than it should be.”
According to the Boston Herald, the audit’s specific findings included poor record-keeping that has allowed developers and delinquent tenants to avoid millions of dollars in payments. The report said that after those findings, Walsh is now promising to “clean up their mess and collect on that money.”
According to The Herald, an audit from KPMG found the BRA lacks “a centralized accounting system and compliance database” to ensure developers were paying required fees, and it also criticized the agency for continuing to rely on paper documents instead of scanned electronic copies.
The report said that among the fees the BRA failed to collect, the audit found that Fenway Triangle Project developers Samuels & Associates owed $600,000 in affordable housing fees, that the BRA had no eviction policy or procedure and had failed to collect $800,000 in unpaid rent, and that its subsidiary, the Economic Development Industrial Corporation, has “accrued $4.3 million in outstanding rent for space leased in the Seaport District and Boston Marine Industrial Park.” The Herald also reported that the audit found $500,000 in losses because the BRA did not keep track of their “leases with escalating terms” that would have raised rent prices for tenants.
According to the report, Walsh is hoping to get another, more detailed audit and has asked the Department of Neighborhood Development to take over for the BRA in collecting some of these fees.
The Herald spoke to BRA secretary and executive director Brian Golden, who told them that “decades of this neglect of the internal operation has created an abject mess” at the agency and that it “needs to develop acceptable business practices for most of its major operations.”