Director’s salary, funds for business development included in EDC budget

The City’s Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors this week unanimously approved a $194,000 budget for fiscal 2013 that includes partial funding for the salary of the EDC Director as well as funds for business development.

The spending plan approved by the Board, which will go to the City Council for final approval as part of the City’s budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, includes $40,000 for the salary of Greg Boatright. Boatright, who serves as EDC Director and interim City Manager, was hired by the Council in May and given an employment contract that expires Sept. 31. He is currently paid $5,000 per month from EDC funds.

While funds were not allocated for the city manager’s salary in the first draft of the City’s general operating  fund budget that was reviewed by council members during a workshop Monday, EDC members said Tuesday they hoped that would change.

“Ultimately, the way this should work is we (EDC) pay 40 percent and the City pay 60 percent (of Boatright’s salary),” said Board President Frank Spinosa. He likened it to the arrangements made for the previous city manager/EDC director.

When asked by a Board member about his salary, Boatright said he would like to see $40,000 come from EDC funds and $50,000 come from the City.

“Now, whether I get the support for that remains to be seen,” he said.

The proposed EDC budget also includes $81,000 for business development. A portion of those monies may be used to help pay for water infrastructure to an existing business looking to build a new dental office on State Highway 29.

Boatright said he has also spoken to a business that manufactures steel doors. Under the right conditions, the EDC might provide funds to assist the company with the retrofit of an existing site that has been vacant for some time on SH 29.

“I don’t think we should let any money out the door until the project is complete,” Boatright said.

“From where we’ve been, this is a positive step for the Board,” he said.

Board member Cathy Cantrell agreed that the EDC should be about promoting business.

“We all support that,” she said.

Boatright said he believed the EDC should try to “wean the City off of having us (EDC) pay their legal fees.” He said that in the past, most legal work has been spent on wastewater issues, and as the city becomes a sewer retailer to area municipal utility districts, the system will generate more revenue. EDC funds were used to help pay for the initial construction of the sewer system for Liberty Hill.

“That was good then, but now our job is to bring business in,” said Board member Brian Butler. “We’re moving on.”

Also included in the proposed budget are allocations for an EDC office. The Board authorized Boatright to research a possible location downtown. Funds were also provided for the development of a Comprehensive Plan and Rewrite of the City’s Unified Development Code, creation of a brochure and website.

Other than the discussion and adoption of the proposed budget, much of Tuesday’s meeting of the EDC Board repeated a meeting of July 11. The Board’s previous actions were voided due to the participation at that time of Jack Harkrider, who believed he had been appointed as a Board member and made motions and cast votes.

“He participated in the discussion and voted like he was a member, but he had not been sworn in,” said  Boatright. “So we had to come back and ratify what you voted on earlier.”

Boatright explained that Harkrider, a former member of the City Council, was appointed to the EDC Board in April, but was not present at the City Council meeting where the action was taken. Mayor Jamie Williamson quoted the EDC Bylaws as requiring the presence of the appointee at the meeting in order to be sworn in.

“Jack just walked in and took a seat (July 11) and I thought Tammy (Kirk, city secretary) just didn’t include him. Jack was under the impression he was a Board member,” Boatright said.

Harkrider was not present Tuesday where members repeated most of the discussion from the earlier meeting and cast the same votes. However, the Board did agree to nominate Harkrider for a position on the Board – an appointment that will require the approval again of the City Council.

In other business Tuesday, the Board unanimously ratified votes previously taken to:

• Authorize Boatright to organize a Meet & Greet for the EDC to interact with area businesses on Sept. 12 at Margarita’s Restaurant.

• Add Boatright and Mrs. Cantrell to those who may sign on the EDC’s banking accounts.

• Appoint three ex-officio or non-voting members to the Board, including Fire Chief Chancy Bizzell, Councilmember Connie Fuller and a school board member.

• Authorize Boatright to negotiate with HK Computers the creation of a website.

• Bond the President, Vice President Cantrell, Boatright and the Treasurer (when named).

• Accept the resignation of Board member Shane White.

The Board attempted to hold the repeated meeting last Tuesday, but failed to get a quorum of members present. Board member John Johnston was not present this week.