County approves economic development incentives

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Questions detailed language

By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council held an unusually brief meeting Tuesday night, running through a short agenda of items largely related to economic development projects.

Before they could get to the actual legislative portion of the agenda, however, the Council listened as District Two Councilwoman, during her regularly reserved ‘news you can use’ portion of the agenda,

chided the Council for its exclusion of those employees making more than $50,000 a year from a one time cost of living adjustment being given to every county employee below that salary level.

Floyd personally apologized for her failure to see that flaw in the plan, saying “You employees who have clawed your way up over the years deserve better from us, and from me. I apologize. I tried to fix this but I was asked to let it go. But in the next budget, I will be asking for the restoration of the merit raise program, and for a 3-4 per cent raise across the board.”

Floyd also chastised the Council, and especially Councilwoman Cindy Wilson for Wilson’s planning committee dragging its feet on the question of the CAT bus system and its future funding. Floyd complained that the issue was put before Wilson’s committee when it had been originally assigned to the finance committee.

Finally Floyd, who was procedurally prohibited from bringing the question back to the floor for a vote, since she was on the losing end of the original vote, still had something to say about the Council’s decision to continue its appeal of the Preston case. “About the Preston case, once you have explained it to people with common sense, what else can you say?”

The Council proceeded to approve several economic incentives designed to either attract new businesses or retain existing ones. The proposed incentives for a project currently known only as Project Opportunity perplexed several members of the Council. The complexity of the language and the detail of the required thresh holds for qualifying for the incentives went far beyond the routine language included in such agreements.

Several Council members asked that the language be clarified. Councilwoman Cindy Wilson took issue with a clause that purported to give the Council chair and the county administrator the authority to approve any future amendments to the agreement without full Council approval.

Wilson clearly felt the provision harked back to the days of Joey Preston’s administration, when most or all of the county’s economic development proposals went through his hands.

Chairman Francis Crowder, who along with Councilman Eddie Moore, abstained from the vote, went as far as to say the language appeared to be intended to outsmart the Council.

Council scheduled a slightly delayed second December meeting to give further approval to the incentives and to allow time to seek changes in the language. That meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, December 20.