Member questions DACC’s compliance with state law
by Jon Gillooly
August 22, 2012 01:48 AM | 2016 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb Development Authority approved inducements for three businesses during a testy Tuesday meeting in which one member also accused the executive director of failing to comply with Georgia’s updated Open Meetings and Open Records Act.

Board member Thea Powell asked executive director Nelson Geter why he hasn’t given the board a presentation on the new law, to which Geter insisted that he had read the law and that the authority is in compliance.

“I beg to differ,” Powell said. “There are actions this board needs to take with respect to very specific procedures.”

Powell said she had attended a Dawson County Development Authority meeting where its executive director had presented the board with bylaw changes to conform with the new law. Powell said she would forward them to Geter.

A clearly irritated Geter responded: “Well, share with us where we’re not in compliance.”

For one thing, Powell said, the Authority must designate who is responsible for any Open Records requests.

“That’s part of the legislation,” Powell said. “You know, there are a lot of things. I don’t have them all off the top of my head.”

Authority Chairman Don Wix came to Geter’s defense, saying if Powell believed the Authority was not in compliance, she had a responsibility to let them know.

“I’m talking about a memo or an email, or let me know,” Wix said. “To show up at a meeting and start saying, ‘look, you’re not doing what I told you’ — that’s not the place to do it, Thea.”

Powell rejected that.

“There’s new legislation. We pay somebody to be the executive director. They should read it. They should be proactive. We shouldn’t have to at each meeting say, ‘oh, now remember, we have to do this because of the new legislation’ or ‘We have to do this’”

The Authority pays the Cobb Chamber of Commerce to provide its staffing services. Geter is a Chamber employee.

Board member Donna Rowe called for Geter and one member of the Authority to review the bylaws to ensure the board was in compliance with the new law, a vote that was approved unanimously.

In other business, Geter said he wanted the Authority to issue an annual report for the public, outlining the year’s accomplishments.

“For example, I am anticipating for this year we will close in excess of about $107 million in bond financing” Geter said. “That’s an accomplishment when you look at the fees associated with that. That is pretty significant, and that will more than cover our operating expenses for the year.”

Powell asked why, since the Authority is paying the Chamber to run its new website at www.selectcobb.com, that the Web site wasn’t updated each time to reflect each transaction.

Geter said the Web site could be updated, but hasn’t been yet because it was still new.

The three inducements the Authority approved Tuesday were for Presbyterian Village of Austell, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and Bake One.

An inducement from the Authority allows companies to borrow money from private lenders at lower interest rates.

Presbyterian Village was approved for a $23 million inducement. Most of that will go to refinance an existing bond, with $2.5 million of it going to buy more property.

Presbyterian Village, a senior residential facility located off the East-West Connector, aims to expand into the adjacent 36-home Indian Springs subdivision and has already bought 26 of the houses. The construction is to begin as soon as the remaining homes are purchased, a Presbyterian Village representative told the board.

The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, located near the Galleria, received approval for an inducement not to exceed $17.7 million to refinance a loan and renovate its building on Galleria Parkway. The institute monitors commercial nuclear power plants and employs about 390 full time and about 65 supplemental workers from the industry that come and go at different times during the year.

Bake One, in Smyrna, received a final bond resolution of $3.25 million for new equipment.

All three of the resolution votes were unanimous, though board member Clark Hungerford was out of the room for the vote on the Bake One item.

Also Tuesday, Authority member Bob Morgan, who chairs the grants committee, said his committee is still working to hammer out a policy on how to award grants in three categories: for businesses that locate in Cobb, for redevelopment projects, and for non-profit groups.

“The key word is that you have to show that the money you use will have an economic impact,” Geter said.

Awarding grants to organizations that encourage economic development hasn’t always been the policy of the Authority, Powell said, pointing out that the board has awarded money to the YWCA before.

“YWCA serves a very important purpose, but they don’t bear any relationship to economic development,” Powell said.

Wix, who seems to disagree with just about everything Powell says, took issue with that.

“I would argue that point, in that I think quality of life is a major part of economic development in the county to me,” Wix said.

Morgan’s committee now plans to make a recommendation to the full board next month.
Comments
(6)
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Off Her Rocker
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August 23, 2012
As a woman, Thea might want to look into what the YWCA does at the core of it's mission in helping women in this county. She might want to connect the dots on how helping women who are in a very vunerable state and getting them the assistance they need does have an economic impact not only on their lives but our community. Amazing that people who serve in these positions seem so ill-equipped to understand how all of these touch points are connected in a community.
SG68
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August 22, 2012
This guy Geter is an ex Georgia Power employee with no Development Authority experience

Prior to his appointment as Executive Director he had no relevant development authority experience. that qualified him for the position.

This is obvious as each Development Authority meeting unfolds.

He doesn't seem to have a clue. This is what they call on the job training.

It seems to me that if the Cobb Chamber and Cobb County were serious about economic development they would have hired one of the many professional, qualified individuals out there who actually had some real life development authority experience.

It is pretty obvious that he was planted at the Development Authority so David Connell could control that organization through the Chamber of Commerce.

Joseph Pond
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August 22, 2012
I applaud Bob Ott and Thea Powell. Thea is doing her best to bring transparency and public accountability to a group that has previously been nothing more than a lapdog to the BOC! The executive director should know their job; don't hate the messenger for calling them on that.
AnnaPJ19
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August 22, 2012
What is with Thea Powell? Every time I read an article about the DACC she is always tearing them apart from the inside out. Last time it was about how awful the web site was (which is actually very impressive, if you take the time to look at it). This time, it's legislation and a few other insignificant things, but it's a thin mask for the fact that she wants Geter out. She can't even say what he did wrong definitively... Give the guy a chance! If the DACC spends all it's time appeasing her, how can they make a positive difference in economic development? She is one of those people that will complain about how everyone does everything instead of trying to put that energy into helping. A huge thanks to Bob Ott for putting her in the group.
Watcher...
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August 22, 2012
Thea Powell for Cobb Commission Chairman!
TCW(TheCobbWay)
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August 22, 2012
@AnnaPJ19

Or maybe she expects the Development Authority to be run in a transparent and professional manner.

Nothing wrong with that.

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