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.