Although it took far too long to get to this point, the Council finally made a decision on Tuesday, July 5, on whether to continue to have an Economic Development Authority. By a 4-3 vote (Rossing, Vohs, Pownell, Nakasian voted yes; Buckheit, Ganey and Zweifel against), the Council passed a motion (drafted by Councilor Nakasian) which retains the EDA and calls for a subcommittee of the Council to recommend changes to the EDA enabling resolution and other changes using the March 2011 Clough EDA report as a reference. In addition, the Council will identify strategies and partnerships needed to accomplish the Council’s economic development policies (adopted June 21) and meet with the EDA to formulate a workplan. The mayor will name appointments to fell the two vacant seats (one Council, one citizen).
I voted against this motion and for the motion Patrick Ganey drafted for more than one reason:
- the duty of the Council to determine all policy of the City (we get that power from the City Charter as Mr Ganey noted in his motion),
- efficiency: policy could be made more effectively and efficiently with one body rather than two,
- transparency and accountability
- flexibility: the statutory framework of an economic development authority is quite narrow and I felt it was worth considering alternative means to get quality input from citizens, the business community, and local groups involved in economic development.
- leadership: no current members of the EDA have demonstrated leadership in trying to respond to Council questions, the Clough report, or other matters which come before them. I have more confidence in the Council’s leadership than the EDA’s.
But I also understand what a decision of the Council means, so now it’s time to work to develop a good strategic plan to carry out our policies and try to reform the EDA itself into a functional body to implement the Council’s plan. I am profoundly glad a decision has been made and we can now move past the question of the EDA’s existence.