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3 area boards listed at risk of losing state funds
Two say they are in compliance with immigration law
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A list of nearly 600 city and county government agencies in jeopardy of losing access to millions of dollars in state loans and grants for failing to comply with a section of Georgia’s anti-illegal-immigration law doesn’t include local governments in Hall County.

But a few of the area’s tangential government boards did make the list released by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts this month.

Among those making the list are Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission and the Gainesville Hall Development Authority.

According to the Department of Audits and Accounts the agencies that made the list are not in compliance with the state’s requirement that they file annual reports certifying they and their contractors are using a federal program, E-Verify, to check new hires’ immigration statuses.

Representatives for the Gainesville-Hall Development Authority and the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority say they are in compliance, however.

A representative for Chicopee could not be reached Wednesday.

The letter from the department of audits says those that aren’t in compliance could lose some state funds, including state community development block grants, until they file the required reports with state auditors. State Auditor Greg Griffin did say in his letter that some might be exempt under the law because they don’t have enough employees.

Such is the case for the Gainesville-Hall Development Authority, said the authority’s secretary Tread Syfan.

“We have no employees,” Syfan said. “You’ve first got to be a public employer before it ever even applies to you.”

A Community Affairs Department official told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday his agency would send out an email reminding government agencies on the list to comply with the state’s immigration law.

Some local government officials said they were unaware of the law’s requirements.

Others blamed their missing reports on staff turnovers and heavy workloads.

Bill Donohue, executive director of Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, which has two employees, said the state board did meet the employee threshold, however.

Lake Lanier’s placement on the list came after Donohue missed the deadline to report its affidavits to the state in March, he said.

Though he was too late to submit the reports online, Donohue said he later submitted the reports.

He could not explain why the development authority was still listed with other noncompliant agencies this month. Representatives from the state department of audits or community affairs did not respond to requests for comments from The Times.

“The good news is the authority has complied and has all the affidavits,” Donohue said.

State auditors sent out a letter in June, warning nearly 1,200 government agencies that they were not complying with the law and that the Immigration Enforcement Review Board could sanction them. That punishment could include fines of up to $5,000 for officials who “knowingly” violate the law.

D.A. King, an anti-illegal-immigration activist, filed a complaint with the board in early July, alleging that more than 1,000 city and county government agencies were not complying. The board plans to discuss the issue at its meeting today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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