Hoping that the third times a charm, Port Arthur’s City Council has called another joint meeting to discuss funding issues with the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
That meeting, like the two previous, may be moot if the EDC fails to show up.
At a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, the two entities are expected to discuss whether to shift EDC funding from 4A projects to specific 4B projects.
The City has proposed using a portion of the money the EDC gets from sales tax revenue for specific 4B projects such as repairs to waterlines and waterline facilities, recreational and parks facilities and projects related to business development.
If the City Council decides to use the EDC funding for infrastructure improvements the matter will be placed on the November general election ballot for voters to ultimately decide.
Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince said use of the EDC’s funding is at the city’s discretion, but they would like to consult with the EDC, if for no other reason, than out of respect.
“We don’t need them, but they are the EDC board and I respect them as much,” Prince said. “The City Council can move forward without the EDC.”
Tuesday’s specially-called meeting will be the third attempt to meet jointly to discuss shifting EDC funds away from more specific economic projects.
As late as last Tuesday, a joint meeting between the two entities was canceled when the EDC board failed to establish a quorum.
Of the board’s nine members, only board president Roosevelt Petry showed up to represent the EDC.
EDC Director Floyd Batiste on Monday said his office was calling board members to remind them of the meeting. He did not know how many members, if any, would be in attendance.
Batiste on Monday provided The News with a written statement regarding the EDC board’s position on the funding issue.
It reads as follows:
The city of Port Arthur Section 4A Economic Development Corporation (the “PAEDC”) Board of Directors recognizes the difficult financial conditions within the city of Port Arthur and has worked with the City in prior years to support ballot propositions which provided $2 million dollars of funding for demolition and certain sports activities. Additionally in more recent years, the PAEDC has supported the City with an allocation of $2,250,000 at $750,000 per year for three years for downtown redevelopment projects following a citizen approved ballot proposition.
The PAEDC Board of Directors will continue to support the City, but needs to retain access to sufficient funds in order to meet economic development opportunities, not only to create additional tax base, but also to provide the employment opportunities so badly needed in our city.
In addition to the Downtown Redevelopment Project, City 2020 Vision, Downtown Renaissance District, Lamar State College-Port Arthur feasibility study for student housing, the PAEDC has and will continue to help support the City through supporting costs associated with the Environmental Justice Program; however, a ballot proposition which would give rise to the reallocation of an additional $1.7 million per year for three years of PAEDC funds will limit the PAEDC in meeting economic development opportunities for our community.”
Prince said if the board is against the measure, she hopes they will attend the meeting and make their feelings known.
“We would certainly rather hear them say. That’s what this meeting is for. It’s an opportunity to go in there and say what their views are,” Prince said.