FRONT ROYAL – As the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority awaits its annual audit for the fiscal year 2018, newly installed executive director Douglas Parsons is taking care of other business.
The audit on which the EDA awaits is its regular yearly audit, not the findings of the financial consultant hired to launch a fact-finding mission that resulted in the authority’s filing of a $17.6 million civil embezzlement suit. Dan Whitten, EDA attorney, explained that the annual audit is usually presented to the board in January but the authority’s audit firm, Yount Hyde and Barbour, is working with the financial consultant to ensure each entities’ numbers match.
County Administrator Doug Stanley said the county would appreciate it if the EDA could “push the audit along” because the county cannot adopt its annual audit until the EDA does the same.
Meanwhile, Parsons said during his three weeks on the job the EDA is making “pretty good progress” and the work by former interim director John Anzivino was crucial in moving forward. Parsons went on to give a detailed list of his activities thus far.
He said the authority has worked with bookkeeper Hottel and Willis ensuring that the EDA’s “current day revenues and expenses are properly managed and accounted for.”
“We’re up to speed with our bank accounts, loans and assets, and we are meeting with our banks to discuss options on our loans and deposits,” he said.
Parsons added that he plans to work with the banks, Hottel and Willis, the authority’s board and the county “to analyze our current cash flow and debt position and make recommendations to sell certain properties and make other adjustments to shore up our finances.” He added that the EDA is analyzing its revenue and expenses for each of the six properties the authority owns and is awaiting appraisals on each.
Parsons noted that several prospects are interested in the EDA-owned Baugh Drive building including an auto manufacturer, a “local entity,” and more. One of those businesses, he said, “has expressed serious interest” and has provided an outline of their plans for the building.
He said that Tap-Sac Enterprises, a wine and beer testing laboratory, is slated to open in the same building that houses the EDA’s office off Kendrick Lane, and joked that “I’ll have to make sure I stay out of there.”
Parsons said he is most excited about working on a Virginia Economic Development Partnership “site characterization project” in which the authority will upload a profile of the authority’s properties to an online database.
The project, which he said is the “meat and potatoes of economic development,” will increase the state partnership’s ability to recruit new businesses to the area.
Other projects on which Parsons said he wishes to begin is a roundtable forum with business owners, a re-working of the authority’s outdated strategic plan and the potential “re-branding” of the EDA through a marketing or public relations firm
Other housekeeping that Parsons said has been handled included securing of the authority’s wireless internet network, which he said previously could have been accessed by anyone in the vicinity of the office.
Overall, Parsons said: “I feel we’ve made good progress over the last three weeks and I’m very optimistic about the future.”
The EDA also:
• Approved a memorandum of understanding stating that in July the county will become the authority’s fiscal agent, meaning the county will be responsible for processing the accounts payable and receivables.
• Entered a closed session, with Freedom of Information Act exemptions cited as the acquisition or disposition of publicly held property; a potential incoming business or industry or the expansion of a business or industry; and consultation with legal counsel.
• Approved the board’s slightly amended bylaws.