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Fredericksburg's vice mayor weighs in on Kalahari bond issue
Date published: 5/24/2010
BY EMILY BATTLE
Fredericksburg Vice Mayor Kerry Devine said yesterday she's disappointed that Kalahari Resorts' push for lower fees on the bonds it hopes to issue through the city's Economic Development Authority has pitted two city boards against each other.
She wrote in a letter to The Free Lance-Star that the City Council should not vote to send the roughly $240 million that Kalahari plans to issue in taxable bonds to Spotsylvania County's EDA. She said the state's extension of the deadline on Kalahari's $30 million tax-exempt bond issue from June 15 to Oct. 15 should provide time for negotiations.
"The best action council can take is none at this point," Devine wrote. "Having appointed responsible, thoughtful members of our community to that board, let them work. There is a cost of doing business, Kalahari should recognize that and come to the table willing to talk. The EDA should, knowing that its fees are pumped back into the local community, be willing to look at the big picture and consider a reduction in fees."
Devine's remarks come on the heels of Mayor Tom Tomzak's exchange with EDA member Rick Pullen on Friday on radio station WFVA-AM, in which Tomzak said the EDA was being "irresponsible" by not agreeing to Kalahari's requests on the bond fees.
"I don't think the EDA is being irresponsible," Devine said in an interview yesterday. "I think they're being cautious."
The fees on the $30 million Kalahari that plans to issue in tax-exempt bonds will be up for discussion at an EDA meeting at noon today in City Hall.
Devine also brought up an informal agreement among local governments in the region not to poach economic development opportunities from one another.
She mentioned in an interview yesterday that the City Council was criticized in 2008 for working out an incentives deal to bring the Spotsylvania firm Creative Dimension Group into the city, after it said it couldn't find space to expand in the county. The firm did end up finding space in the county, and never came to Fredericksburg.