CRA adds August meeting, may seek more bids for audit of finances
An Aug. 22 meeting of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is being added to the city calendar, chairwoman Kathleen Born said Sunday.
The agenda isn’t set, she said, but there are several issues that keep the meetings lengthy and even lively that could be addressed if the five-member board’s legal counsel, executive director and most active partner — developer Boston Properties, landlord for Google — can pull information and reports together in time.
Legal counsel Jeffrey Mullan, of the law firm Foley Hoag, is looking at whether any actions of Executive Director Joseph Tulimieri between September 2009 and May 2012, when there were no active board members, were illegal; Boston Properties officials said they are considering board design suggestions for a controversial structure being built for Google; and the board’s finance subcommittee is seeking an auditor to look over authority finances.
Board members decided at their first meeting, May 21, that the next audit of the authority should be by a new firm and more comprehensive than the usual. But a call for auditors by Chris Bator, board treasurer, Conrad Crawford, assistant treasurer, and Tulimieri to bid for the job resulted in only two companies coming forward, they said at the authority’s Wednesday meeting.
“We were expecting a limited response” based on previous calls for auditors, Crawford said, “and were hoping to bump up that number. We weren’t able to do that.”
They would try again if neither bidder seemed a good choice for the job, Bator said.
Resident Steve Kaiser, looking at the “black hole” of the two years before there were active board members, added a concern.
“During the black hole period there was at least one year when there was no approved budget,” Kaiser said in a June 22 letter to the board. “The authority may be functioning today without an approved budget. The current authority should establish the legal status.”
“An awful lot of cash on hand”
A spreadsheet of authority finances included in the meeting’s packet of documents showed it began this year with $3 million in cash and is expected to take in $10.4 million in land proceeds, grants, reimbursed expenses, rental income and interest income — with the largest injection being $7.2 million in land proceeds in January.
“The authority is by comparison to similar kind of authorities, perhaps it’s overstating to say awash in cash, but there is an awful lot of cash on hand,” Bator said, crediting the staff for being careful with money “in the vacuum when there wasn’t a board.”
The biggest expenses are expected to be $202,210 in salaries, including Tulimieri’s $78,617 in annual wages at $113 per hour, and $660,214 in professional fees to consultants, lawyers, accountants, surveyors and planners.
Board members expressed interest in putting together an investment policy, and at least starting with asking city finance officials their advice on the best way to do so.
The authority is responsible for zoning decisions in redevelopment zones anywhere in the city, but has been primarily responsible for Kendall Square over the past decades. The land it owns is nearly at an end, though, and there have been calls for the agency to dissolve itself once the last parcel is sold.
Meetings are usually scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month, but during the public portion of the most recent meeting — the board went into a closed-door session afterward — an August date wasn’t certain. The meeting is coming in the fourth week because one board member had a conflict and couldn’t make it Aug. 15, Born said. Meetings have been held at 5:30 p.m. in third-floor rooms at the Boston Marriott Cambridge, 50 Broadway, Kendall Square, and Born suspected the August meeting would be as well but advised residents to keep an eye on the city calendar for a posted meeting notice and agenda.