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EDA meets today about bonds for Kalahari
City EDA to consider Kalahari bond request


Date published: 5/14/2010

BY EMILY BATTLE

For the past two years, Fredericksburg's City Council has talked about Kalahari Resorts as the critical economic driver to ensure Fredericksburg's future viability as an independent city.

City staff have worked to support Kalahari's search for financing, and to ensure that they'll be ready to review what will be one of the largest and most complex building projects ever permitted in Fredericksburg.

But now a group appointed by the City Council and tasked with fostering economic development is throwing at least a temporary wrench into these efforts.

The Economic Development Authority will meet today at 4 p.m. in City Hall to continue its negotiations with Kalahari Resorts over how much the resort should have to pay the authority to run its $240 million taxable bond issue through the EDA.

State law allows all localities to establish industrial or economic development authorities.

These boards are appointed by city councils or boards of supervisors to serve four-year terms. They can serve a maximum of two full terms.

Unless an appointed member misses three meetings in a row, or misses four meetings within one year, the City Council has no power to remove EDA members from office.

Aside from the appointment process, the council has no direct oversight of the EDA. Fredericksburg's EDA does not receive direct support in the city budget, although several city staff members spend time at EDA meetings and preparing EDA paperwork.

Fredericksburg City Council members appoint their seven EDA members the same way they appoint members of all other city boards--they request applications, then conduct interviews with each applicant before taking a public vote on who should take the post.

The most recent EDA appointment was made at Tuesday's council meeting, when local commercial Realtor Michael Colangelo was appointed to fill Chris Limbrick's expired term.

Colangelo will take his seat at today's meeting.

The main purpose of EDAs is to use the special powers state law gives them to promote industrial and economic development in a locality.

EDAs can buy, sell and lease land. They can build infrastructure to support particular projects. They can also make loans or grants to businesses to spur development.

Most of the Fredericksburg EDA's activity over the past several years has been in the grant-making business.


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