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Letters to the Editor

October 20, 2012

To the editor:
I have lived in Big Spring all my live and I love this community. We established the Type A Economic Development in 1991 under the only method available at that time. Since then, we have spent about $20 million of our sales tax dollars in an attempt to help Big Spring grow. The EDC has had some success and I know you and I can all name a number of failures. I think over the years, the batting average has not been very good.

Times have changed since 1991 and, if Big Spring wants to compete with other towns for growth, we must change. You can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to have different results every time. Our 22 years of a Type A EDC just hasn't gotten the job done. A Type B EDC will open the door to give us more opportunity to attract different types of business and will give us the option to also improve quality of life issues here for the citizens' benefit. We could also begin to buy and demolish or clean up old buildings, as well as enhance other areas of town like the entrances to Big Spring on old Highway 80 from the east and west.

I hear a lot of people saying they never knew what the EDC is doing with their money. Board members can tell us where they spent money after its gone and then tell us it has created jobs. But we have no say in any of the decisions and have no idea if we would have supported the decision if we knew all the facts. Under a Type B EDC, the board will be required to hold a public hearing 60 days before they or the city council approve obligating our money, whether it's a Type A or Type B project. That means we get to come to an open meeting, hear the good and the bad about a project, discuss it, ask questions and give our thoughts, then have 60 days to research, make a decision and give input to our elected representatives on whether we want to invest in the venture.

I think a Type B EDC will be a good step forward for Big Spring; it just makes common sense that under a Type B, we can do all we have available under a Type A, plus options that are available under Type B. And it lets us know what is going on with our money before it is gone.

I want Big Spring to have all the tools available to us to help this community grow and become a better, cleaner, more attractive home for your family and mine.

Please join me in voting for the Type B EDC.

Cotton Mize
Big Spring

To the editor:
What was the purpose of Economic Development Cooperation and why was it brought to Big Spring? My understanding is, it was developed to assist businesses that wanted to be a part of Big Spring and promote economic growth in our fair city.

These are the businesses I’m aware of that EDC helped get started here. If I remember correctly, Western Container was the first business to receive assistance from EDC, then later FreeCom, Desert Tanks and John Crane Production, and I know there are others. These are companies that employ a great number of people.

Also, don’t forget Hotel Settles, a great big eyesore in my opinion, that Brint Ryan possibly would not have restored without EDC's help. They have not only employed a great number of people the past two or three years, but are remaking the eyesores into a beauty spot soon. Everyone is looking forward to the completion of the Settles! What an impact will it have on downtown and how many will it employ when it opens?

How many jobs have the above firms provided, you do the calculation. I’ve heard over the years about the railroad spur in the Air Park and it was never used, but now I understand it has been revived and the Fort Worth Pipe Company has already started receiving rail cars at the base. Since there has been no activity on the rail for years, the traffic on the highway is unaware of the danger, so drivers be careful. It is also my understanding, the city will receive revenues from the air park shipments, so Big Spring will directly benefit by EDC.

To me, it seems under Type A, EDC has control and under Type B the City may control the funds. Now, just why do we want the City controlling something someone else was hired to manage? I remember John Currie saying he was concerned that someday the city might want to use those for various needs. It looks like we have encountered that — that is not the purpose of EDC.

So come election time, please vote against Type B as we want EDC to have the freedom to make wise decisions on assisting businesses to come to Big Spring and help boost our economy.

Pat Simmons
Big Spring

To the editor:
I hope the Type B proposition passes. At least then, we will have public hearings 60 days prior to the EDC spending any of our tax money on A or B type projects.

That tax money belongs to the citizens of Big Spring and we should know what it is going to be used for in time for us to voice our opinion before the EDC gives it away.

Under the Type A we have now, we don't know where the money is going until it is gone. It is too late then to do anything about it.

At least now, the mayor and city council are giving us a vote. We will get to decide — thank you for that opportunity.

Randy Johnson
Big Spring

To the editor:
Here are some of the things the 4A EDC has done for Big Spring:

• GEO Flightline — 100 employee. GEO pays the city approximately $1 million annually.
• Phillips Fabrication — 30 employees.
• A&M Composites — 90 employees.
• Wind Energy Transmission — 50 employees.
• John Crane Production — 65 employees.
• Desert Tanks — 97 employees.
• Western Container — 100 employees.
• Big Dog Rig Movers — 30 employees.

These are employees who rent or buy housing, clothing, food, etc. in Big Spring. These people spend their money here!

Our 4A EDC has given the city 40 percent of its budget for water renovations. This should have been in the city budget the past 5-10 years. Now, the city wants the rest of EDC's money. Are they good stewards of our money? I think not.

The EDC has been doing its job.

I will vote against changing our EDC.

Susan McLellan
Big Spring

To the editor:
On Nov. 6, Big Spring voters will have an important decision to make on the future of our city. This choice will affect our city's growth, jobs and tax rates, not just for our generation, but future generations, also. There will be a vote to change our current Economic Development Corp. to a Type B entity.

EDC money is intended to bring new businesses to our town, such as Weatherford A&M Composites, Western Container, Desert Tank, etc. Once this money is in the hands of our city council, it will be used exclusively for city expenditures. Remember, EDC money, as it is today, can be used for Type B projects such as athletic facilities, entertainment facilities and low-income housing, but only when the voters approve it. A change as proposed by our council will prevent our citizens from voting for those future projects.

Do you trust what this council is telling us? Remember, just over three months ago, our city negotiated in good faith to leave the remaining 60 percent of EDC funds alone if EDC would support the election to repair our wastewater plant. The council even praised the EDC board for its effort and cooperation to help the city in this time of need. Now, the city is back, this time seeking all the remaining EDC funds.

Please think long and hard — will this change actually benefit Big Spring's future, or will it give the city access to these funds to spend as they please without voter approval?

I urge you to vote against this proposition! Keep your right to vote!

D.H. Currie
Big Spring

To the editor:
This vote should be been so simple. Each side should have gotten their information out to the public. Then, let the power of the vote by the citizens decide the path of the EDC.. There seems to be a lack of faith in the voter, or maybe a fear.

The pre-election rhetoric became down and in-the-ditch dirty. The personal assaults on our elected officials were totally uncalled for. This left the city of Big Spring looking bad to people looking to move here as a business or for personal reasons. The assaults have left friends feeling strained if they are on different sides of the issue.
Let the vote decide the future paty of the city and, after the election, let every citizen unite behind Big Spring.

I would suggest to believe everything you are read and told. Go to the city council meeting and the EDC meeting. Then, go vote your conviction for Big Spring.

After studying both sides, I will vote for the 4B option.

Mike Tarpley
Big Spring

To the editor:
When you are considering your vote on the 4B proposal, please consider the following information.

The EDC was founded as a 4A corporation by voters in 1990. It was founded to bring in new businesses to Big Spring. From 2007 to the present, the EDC has brought in 425 jobs and helped retain 136 jobs in Big Spring. These jobs generate a payroll of $20.75 million. Current and past projects are viewable online at bigspringtx.com. This information is also available in the EDC offices.

The EDC can do 4B proposals without changing the type of corporation it is. At present, any 4B proposal brought by the EDC must be voted on by the citizens of Big Spring (as in the last election). If the EDC is changed to a 4B corporation only the board will have a vote. Yes, you as a citizen can talk to a board member, but you will not have a vote on the proposal. Only the board members would have a vote.

We all know that we need to work on the infrastructure of Big Spring (water lines, roads, etc.). I applaud the city council for looking at these problems. However, changing to a 4B corporation is looking at the short-term fix and not at the long-term solution.

This past election took 40 percent of EDC funds for 20 years. If it were changed to a 4B corporation, the city could decide to use another 30 percent for roads and another 30 percent for water lines for the next 20 years. This means there would be no money for bringing in new businesses or helping our local businesses to expand for 20 years. Again, the infrastructure is in need of major improvements and we need to look for long-term solutions without sacrificing the economic development future of Big Spring. More businesses and more jobs will bring in more tax money for the city over hundreds of years instead of the 20-year short-term outlook.

Meetings for the EDC are open to the public and the meetings are televised on our local access channel. While many companies will only negotiate with a signed confidentiality document, all final information must be brought to the council for them to approve or disapprove. All monies must be accounted for and audited. The rumor about the EDC working in secret is not true.

Please consider where you want our city to be in the next 100 years. Do not look at the short term. Vote against the 4B proposal.

Steve Waggoner
Big Spring

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