By Jane Smith
The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency will let federal officials decide if the former operators of Old School Square broke any rules when accepting federal pandemic-related aid.
The CRA board directed staff on July 14 to send a letter to the Small Business Administration’s Inspector General Hannibal Ware, pointing out the possibility that the former operators may have double-dipped when spending the federal money.
The CRA has talked about suing the former operators — Old School Square Center for the Arts — to recoup $187,500 it had given the group for the 2021 fiscal year. The group has not provided requested financial records to the CRA, which terminated its contract as of February.
Instead of suing or spending money to cover the costs of pursuing the group’s financial records, Deputy Vice Mayor Juli Casale suggested the new course of action.
“But what we know, today, from (the city’s) internal auditor there was an issue of double-dipping,” Casale said. “Why don’t we just report that and have that other government entity investigate and get back its money.”
The letter was sent via email and certified mail on July 25 by the CRA’s outside counsel, Sanaz Alempour.
The former operators received a $309,735 paycheck protection loan that was later turned into a grant. The money was supposed to be used for employee salaries to cover those laid off at the start of the pandemic. The CRA was concerned that it may have already paid for those salaries through funding it had given the operators. The former operators did not respond to The Coastal Star’s request for comment.