$0 Plus $3,500 = $67,000

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By Dave Freneaux

    Let me explain.  Steve Vasallo has been hired by Mayor Mac Watts to lead Central’s Economic Development efforts through June 30, 2011.  Mr. Vasallo previously held the same position for Central for 15 months from April, 2009 through June, 2010.  Mr. Vasallo’s first 15 month stint with the city was funded using $51,000 of grant money given to Central by the State of Louisiana to promote Economic Development.  Of that $51,000, $0 was funded by the budget of the City of Central, which explains the $0 in the headline.

     The Central City Council approved $150,000 of Central’s 2010/2011 budget to be spent on Economic Development, but, due largely to the lack of an Economic Development Consultant after Mr. Vasallo’s first contract expired, none of that budget had been spent as of February of 2011.  At the last City Council meeting, at the Mayor’s request, the Council approved $14,000 of that $150,000 budget to be spent to hire an Economic Developer through the end of the current fiscal year of June 30, 2011.  Mr. Vasallo will be paid $3,500 of that money for his March efforts in Central.  That explains the $3,500 in the headline.  So, over a total period of 16 months, having Steve Vasallo spearheading Economic Development efforts in Central has cost $0 + $3,500, or $3,500.

    In his 15 month tenure in 2009/2010 Mr. Vasallo facilitated the creation of a non-profit entity called the Central Economic Development Foundation, which was composed entirely of volunteer business owners and citizens of Central.  That foundation raised, in private donations, over $62,000 which was spent in furthering Economic Development in Central.  None of that $62,000 was tax money.  The entire $62,000 was charitable giving by the citizens and businesses in Central.  During Mr. Vasallo’s first week of work in Central this month, a Central business owner donated $5,000 to the Central Economic Development Foundation, simply because Mr.Vasallo had been hired.  $62,000 of private money raised in 2009/2010 plus $5,000 raised in a week in 2011 equals $67,000.  That is how $0 plus $3,500 = $67,000 in benefit to the City of Central. will, in next week’s newspaper, report on several facets of Economic Development, including some concerns and the benefits.  For now, suffice it to say that the City of Central, due in large part to the generosity of its citizens and business owners, has received the benefits of an Economic Developer at little cost to the taxpayers.

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