Dominick Calsolaro

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UHY LLP hired to audit Albany Convention Center Authority's books

Published on 11/26/2007 written by by Michael DeMasi

The Albany Convention Center Authority is hiring the Albany, N.Y., office of UHY LLP to audit its books over the next two years, but the really big decisions facing the authority will come in December.

In the next few weeks the authority plans to announce its choice on who should serve as interim executive director and will hire consultants to do a new hotel market analysis and study a 30-acre swath of land downtown where the $200 million convention center, hotel and parking garage would be built.

"December will be a big month in terms of many of the components (of the project)," said George Leveille, authority chairman.

The authority voted 6-0 at its meeting Wednesday morning to hire UHY, an international firm with offices in Albany, to serve as its auditor.

The fees will range from $5,500 to $8,500 per year, with an option for a third year.

Authority member Joe Pennisi said the only other competing firm, Les S. Thompson & Co. in Manhattan, doesn't have as much government auditing experience and proposed a four-year contract that would have cost $31,725 to $41,040.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Albany City Councilman Dominick Calsolaro questioned the wisdom of building a convention center and 400-room hotel when occupancy rates in the Albany region are below the 76 percent level that were projected in a 2002 feasibility study of the convention center.

The occupancy rate in the Albany-Schenectady region in the third quarter of this year was 71.8 percent, a decline of 1.4 percentage points from a year ago, according to Smith Travel Research in Hendersonville, Tenn. The average room rate was $107.26, a 2.5 percent increase over last year.

Leveille told Calsolaro a new feasibility study will assess the current market needs and that the convention center would increase demand for hotel rooms.