Gov't

City Council Debates Economic Development Funding

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By Dave Freneaux

On August 10th the Central City Council met at 6 PM with approximately 150 in attendance and did not adjourn until 9 PM.  One major topic which sparked heated debate was the city's funding of Economic Development.  The evening began with Wade Giles, President of the Central Economic Development Foundation, being presented with a plaque recognizing Central for it's successful efforts in Economic Development.  The award was given to Central by the Louisiana Municipal Association at its annual meeting the previous weekend.
 
Later in the meeting Council Member DeJohn sponsored an ordinance to ammend the 2010-2011 budget to include an additional $90,000 for Economic Development.  During the lengthy discussion that followed it became clear that these monies would be set aside for the City to spend to promote economic growth, but that none of these funds would be slated to be given to the Central Economic Development Foundation, which is a private non-profit organization in which Central citizens volunteer their time and financial support to attract new businesses to Central.  This growth is understood by most to be absolutely necessary if Central is to have a sufficient sales tax base to support a growing City and School System.  During the debate several who spoke pointed out that the Central Community School System  recently received an A+ Bond Rating, which lowered the interest rate to be paid on the funding for new schools and will save the taxpayers of Central many times the $90,000 being considered.  The Bond Attorney for the School Board stated at Monday's School Board meeting that economic development has contributed positively to the A+ rating and that it will be a continuing factor in future bond ratings.
 
Council Members LoBue and Washington expressed strongly their interest in requiring the Central Economic Development Foundation to make certain changes in its structure before being willing to support this change in the budget.  Mr. Giles explained that the Foundation had already made many of the requested changes and was in the process of accomodating the additional requirements of Council Members Washington and LoBue.  Appropriating the additional $90,000 in support of Economic Development does not obligate Central to spend the money, it simply makes the funding available should the City see value in supporting any economic development effort, including but not limited to expenditures encouraged by the Economic Development Foundation.  Understanding that the City retains complete control over whether these funds are spent and what they support, Council Members DeJohn, Messina and Moak voted in favor of the additional support for economic development.  Council members LoBue and Washington voted against the budget ammendment. 

23 Comments

  1. THE PHANTOM

    August 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Oh Wow

    Some one tell me what does this Wade dude get and award for. I haven’t seen one descent business this organization has brought to this community. People the problem with these types of organizations is they are a bottomless pit. Watch this time next year the organization will be asking for more money to lobby business to come to the area. You will consistently here the same speech from Giles over and over again about not having enough money to bring in quality business. I promise you all we will threw more money into this thing and get nothing in return.

    Also what does the CCSS having anything to do with the Economic Development foundation. I would like to see this contributing factor on paper that gave us this A + bond rating. I think I’ll call BS on that one. Enjoy your award Wade

    • dave

      August 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      As to bond rating, I suggest you talk to Grant Schleuter, the bond attorney for the CCSS. The School Board office can give you his contact information. The concept that economic development has increasd our attractiveness comes from his dealings with Standard and Poors as they have evaluated the CCSS.

  2. Mike Mannino

    August 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I have no doubt that Mr Giles has put in a tremendous number of voluteer hours on this and should be recognized. My concerns get to more basic things such as the fact that we have a Chamber of Commerce which is recognized as the economic development engine in most Cities and we also have the City recruiting business. It just looks to me that we are duplicating efforts and should be handling this through one entity. We dont have the abilty to fund multiple efforts and it will confuse people as to who actually is in charge.

    I would also be concerned about the need to bring development here at a pace faster than we can provide infrastructure. Our new schools will be full when complete. Then what ? The master plan does a good job of requiring new roads in developments that the builders will pay for but you still have to be aware of what they dump onto which is our 4 main feeders. That would be a recipe for gridlock on our roads.

    I keep asking the question, what is the end game here ? If you keep generating taxes through growth but if the income doesnt pay for the extra infrasructure required to support this, what have we gained ? The answer is a lower quaility of life for those of us that understand that things will change but prefer to let it happen naturally which is a much slower pace. The only people benefitting from this would be developers who will pocket their money and move on to the next target.

    Lastly, I dont know of a single business that was recruited for Central. Most are locally owned, small business which is what we want most of anyway. I’m sure there are some but I take the stance that when the time is right, teh demographics will draw the others here. Big box stores have large divisions that are always watching small cities and they will evaluate on their own without recruiting. What I dont want to see, and you can bet it will happen, is tax breaks to draw some of these stores in which is one tool that some cities use that in very few cases, pays off.

  3. THE PHANTOM

    August 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I am right in line with you Mike on every point but awards should not be handed out to people that have not accomplished anything. I was under the impression that Economic Development foundation was a volunteer group that raised its own money to promote its purpose. Since my tax money is being used for this foundation what is this guys credentials. Does he have a degree in Economics or and MBA. Does he have prior experience as and economic leader in any community other than this one. I guess I get tired of seeing people given responsibilities that have no prior skills, education our experience. Problem is that my tax dollars are being given to a foundation composed under qualified individuals. I appreciate all the hours this gentleman has put into this foundation but patting yourself on the back this quickly seems to be over glorifying his position.

    I just recently saw this same glorification example a short time ago. They gave the president the noble peace prize his first three months in office.

    I would also like to thank our president for not renewing the long term capital gains tax. If there were any chance of me holding on to any investments I will make sure I cash them out before December 31. Then I will reinvest the gain until someone gets in office that cuts that tax again. If there were any hope at stimulating the housing market that tax increase should kill any chances of that happening.

    • dave

      August 11, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      I thought what came out of last night’s Council was pretty clear. Central Economic Development Foundation is to get zero tax dollars. Any tax dollars that get spent are spent by the City. Having said that, there are a group of volunteers giving their time and money working to attract businesses to Central. Some of these people are amongst the most successful business people in Central. If there WAS a need for credentials to volunteer your time and money, these people probably have those credentials. But, since they get to make no decisions as to how tax dollars are spent, it really should not matter. If the City chooses to take advice from this group as to how to spend the City’s money, that is on the City. As to “my tax dolars being given to a foundation composed of underqualified individuals”, tax dollars are not given to them and I question that you can find them to be underqualified, which is in itself problematic because it does not take qualifications to donate time and money to a charitable cause. Lastly, the award was given to the City, not Wade Giles. It was the Council’s decision to have the presentation deal last night.

  4. THE PHANTOM

    August 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Read the article and my comment DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The evening began with Wade Giles, President of the Central Economic Development Foundation, being presented with a plaque recognizing Central for it’s successful efforts in Economic Development.

    • dave

      August 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm

      Read it, heck I wrote it. I will confess that I am under the impression that the whole “awarding” was purely ceremonial. I am fairly certain that the LMA award to the City of Central will not actually be posessed or kept by Giles or the CEDF. I will look into it and post back. My apology if I was not clear. Burden falls on me to communicate.

      OK, again, my bad. They definitely have the credentials to volunteer their time and money, because volunteering does not require credentials, only willingness.

      However, these issues are really just getting in the way of the real issue. I specifically asked the Council, the Mayor and the Attorney whether the CEDF will ever get even one penny of tax dollars given to them by Central. The answer was a quick and definite NO. The only way any money gets spent out of this $150,000 is if the City writes the check, and they have no obligation to do so. If the City decides not to hire an Economic Development consultant, they don’t have to. If the City decides not to advertise Central in a national or regional business journal for the purpose of attracting franchises, they don’t have to. At the end of FY 2010-2011 there can be $150,000 in the City’s bank account of un-spent Economic Development money.

      If, however, the City CHOOSES to spend the City’s tax dollars on a particular effort that is recommended by the CEDF, that also is the City’s choice. It is much like the non-profit Cheneyville Fire Department who got $10,000 of Central Taxpayer money pledged to their organization last night. Central did not have to, they did it because they thought the money was well spent. If the City feels hiring an economic developer is a good investment, it is the City’s decision, the City’s money, and the Developer would work for the City, just as Steve Vasallo did for the last year. That there are volunteers with a few of their own contributed dollars that want to help the City’s Developer is really not the issue. That is not Taxpayer Money they raised privately. They can’t tell the City how to spend tax dollars, and they get no money from the City.

      Please feel free to raise any question, and I am being sincere. I try to stay out of the political acrimony but feel OK discussing real stuff like what you have brought up. Thanks for caring enough to discuss it.

      Dave

      • dave

        August 12, 2010 at 6:32 am

        Ok, so I did my homework and got two responses from late-night e-mails. The giving of the plaque to Wade at the Council was purely ceremonial. He was accepting the plaque on behalf of the City. Wade was chosen because the award was given specifically in recognition of the fact that he was the person responsible for Central being considered for the award. Central was invited to submit an entry for consideration in the area of Econimic Development. Mr. Giles, as I understand it, did the work to have Central cosidered for this economic development award in addition to being the chair of the CEDF. Wade’s name is not on the plaque and it was hanging in City Hall before 8:00 AM Wednesday. Hope that explains the award.

  5. THE PHANTOM

    August 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I am not criticizing his ability to volunteer but his progress as a leader of this foundation. Maybe when you publish a article you should RECOGNIZE what successes he has made.

    Probably having credentials and actually having credentials are two different things. So which one is it?

    Well Dave provided that your theory is correct.

    Why is this clown so desperate to get more money for a foundation that you say is suppose to be charitable. By the way any money that this foundation gets from Central is tax dollars. So any money that is spent by this group that comes from the city is open up to public scrutiny. ASK MIKE MANNIO HE CAN VERFIY THIS.

  6. Frank

    August 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    They are over developing the neighborhoods and have to many small units. The luster will fade, the infrastructure has not caught up, and we will be left with lower property values because of it. The DEVELOPERS who get special treatment are getting rich, though.

  7. Keith

    August 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Wow, phantom? Really? Maybe I could be spiderman to protect my identity? I’m sure you have invested much time and money of your own in volunteer efforts concerning our new city and school system. It is more than tiring to constantly hear the criticisms toward those working to build a better Central from those that do NOTHING!! However, if you do choose to help instead of hurt you will have to use your real name and then you may draw criticism from the green hornet or wonder woman!

  8. Keith

    August 12, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Oh yeah, and next time you post maybe you could do a list of your accomplishments so we could get a good idea of your worth to our community?

  9. Donna Dufour

    August 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Kieth, last name please. Just a 1st name is just as anonymous as Phantom’s.

  10. Jimmie Keith Kepper

    August 12, 2010 at 8:22 am

    18043 Magnolia Bend
    225-278-2962
    6′ 270lbs. (but a slim 270;)
    Used to be brown hair
    Blue eyes
    Wife: Donna 4 kids, 6 dogs 5 cats
    Big smile and wonderful outgoing personality!!

  11. Jimmie Keith Kepper

    August 12, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Aka Keith, Aka Spiderman(but only cause phantom was already taken)

  12. Jimmie Keith Kepper

    August 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Ok, not quite 6′ but the extra inch really enhances my superhero resume!
    Any other questions?

  13. T.J.

    August 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Funny stuff Keith !!!! Love it Can I be Batman?

  14. mike mannino

    August 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hey man 1 slim 270 is a stretch !!! LOL I’m laughing with you not at you cause I aint slim either !

  15. PHANTOM MENACE

    August 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I am 4′ 1″ 380 pounds I reside at centrals number one development “VILLAGE AT MAGNOLIA SQUARE”.

    I am unmarried but have 2 rug rats and a live in old nag.

    I have a 1-Ant Eater, and a tempermental badger who doesn’t like to be disturbed.

  16. KeithK

    August 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    hmmmmmm….attractive! 4′-1″ 380lbs. you should be the phantom sphere not menace!! 😉 sorry didn’t mean to get personal.

  17. Donna Dufour

    August 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Nice to meet you Kieth.I like you wife’s name.

  18. KeithK

    August 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Good to meet you too! And all I know about Donna’s is that they are a handful!!! 😉

  19. Donna Dufour

    August 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Kieth, you do know “Donna” means “Lady” in Greek. So you have a great lady with a great name.

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