Changes to the Big Lake Economic Development Corporation’s bylaws were made official Tuesday night with the City Council and BLEDC Board approving the new language.
Councilman John Long was the only member of the city council to oppose the new bylaws.
“I just like for it to be known that I will vote no on this and what the reasons are,” Long said. “Last week I heard a lot of ‘control, control, control’ I don’t think we need to control the EDC. I think as part of the EDC and part of the city we need to work with them, and not control them.”
Long said he is looking for a symbiotic relationship between the two groups.
“I still don’t think bylaws, words on a piece of paper, make people work better together,” Long said. “I think understanding always makes people work better.”
Mayor Phil Pool said he doesn’t think the issue is about control.
“I think we saw very good first steps last week after meeting,” Pool said. “I think these [bylaws], with the points that are in there will make us very cohesive.”
Pool ended by saying he feels the new bylaws will help keep future issues from becoming a problem.
EDC President Kim Hutchinson said that the EDC has always followed the bylaws that were in place as well as the code of law.
“We know these have a little more detail,” Hutchinson said. “But we have always followed the policies and procedures and the code of the law. That is why we don’t understand this.”
Pool said it is not like there is anything currently broken with the EDC.
“We just saw some stuff that needed to be addressed before it gets broken,” Pool said. “Y’all have done a fantastic job of running it, and nobody has said anything otherwise.”
Pool said the new bylaws are a preemptive move.
“Y’all are not always going to be there,” Pool said. “We are not always going to be here. This way everything is spelled out.”
The approved bylaws mirror the ones sent last week to Attorney Pat Chesser by the city council.
The new language moves the EDC Director position out from under the EDC Board. The director position is now a city employee under direct supervision of the city council. The salary, and other business expenses, for the EDC director position will be reimbursed to the city from the EDC’s budget.
The structure of the EDC director position will mirror that of the municipal judge where the director will answer directly to the city council, but day-to-day operations, such as time off, will be handled by the city secretary.
The council also approved language which requires at least two city council members (which can include the mayor) to serve on the EDC Board.
Mayor Phil Pool and Councilwoman Robin Collins were appointed to the EDC Board along with current EDC members Carl Baker and Melvin Davis Jr.
The council also approved language which restricts who can serve on the EDC board.
The new bylaws state a person may not serve as a board member for the EDC if they, or a business they own in whole or part, has a loan or grant from the EDC. Once a person’s grant or loan has been paid in full and/or all terms and conditions of their loan or grant are met, the person is eligible to serve as a board member.
The final change to the bylaws restricts city council members, the EDC director, or employees and/or independent contractors of the EDC from being eligible for a grant or loan from the EDC.
Councilman Cliff Miller made the motion to approve the new bylaws. Councilwoman Robin Collins seconded the measure before it was approved with Councilman Long voting against.