Loudon County Economic Development Agency
To Be Audited
|The mysterious and secretive
Loudon County Economic
Development Agency will be audited. That, according to an email
received by local activist, Joann Turner, from the State Comptroller's
The Loudon County Economic Development Agency, or EDA, as it is known, is a joint venture between Loudon County, the City of Loudon and Lenoir City. Their mission is to assist commercial and industrial development in the cities and county. The EDA is governed by a Board Of Directors. Loudon County pays the lion's share of funding of the EDA to the tune of approximately $135,000.00 per year with the city of Loudon kicking in nearly $30,000.00 and Lenoir City contributing another $25,000.00 or so. Agency president Pat Phillips annual salary is $76,500.00. His assistant, Kathy Knight draws $46,000.00 per year.
The EDA has always flown under the radar of financial scrutiny claiming at times exemption of the open records laws based on the fact that they were a quasi-governmental agency. But apparently the State Comptrollers office disagrees. The law requires that any agency receiving funding from government must be audited annually. Apparently the EDA has never been audited or if so no one has ever been able to gain access to those audit reports. Ms. Joann Turner, a long time activist in local government has for years tried to obtain records of the financial activities of the EDA but has been denied time after time. The audit records are to be kept on file in the County Court Clerks office but apparently aren't there. Each year local governments are given a very general budget document by the EDA, but a detailed explanation of expenditures is never supplied. With no oversight of their budget, the EDA has on occasion has been used for a clearing house for expensive trips for other government officials. The cost of the junkets being paid by the EDA and then the various officials offices repaying the EDA for the trip.
For several years the EDA has come under closer scrutiny due to the fact that they haven't produced any meaningful results for the county yet their cost and salaries continue to grow. Four years ago, Lenoir City was on the verge of withdrawing from the interlocal agreement, feeling that they were not receiving adequate representation by the EDA.
The financial activities of the EDA may very well be correct and above board. However with no accountability anything is possible. The results of the audit will be posted here as soon as available.