- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
The Paris City Council unanimously said “no” on Monday to a change in the PEDC bylaws to allow members of the board of the Paris Economic Development Corporation to live outside the city.
But the council went along with four other proposed bylaws changes, including one that will allow directors who resign in the middle of their terms to continue on the board until the City Council has appointed a successor.
PEDC Executive Director Steve Gilbert told the council that both proposals grew out of the resignation in early June of then-chairman Kenny Dority.
Dority, who was building a new residence outside the Paris city limits, became immediately ineligible to remain on the board as soon as he moved out of his home in Paris.
Afterward, Gilbert said, he was contacted by several individuals who live outside the city limits but who own businesses in Paris and do all their business in the city.
“The board did not recommend this,” Gilbert stressed, “but they wanted to bring it before you to make the decision.” He said he had heard from people who felt for, as well as people who felt it should remain as it is.
“But, if someone lives in the county but owns a business in the city, maybe they could serve,” Gilbert said.
City Attorney Kent McIlyar said he researched state law and found no restriction for a Type 4A corporation, like the PEDC, to have directors who live outside the city.
“But I think it has to be clear. It would have to be the owner of a local business, not just an officer,” McIlyer said.
“That could get cumbersome (to enforce),” District 5 Councilman Matt Frierson said.
Out of the 8-1/4 percent sales tax collected by Paris merchants on sales, the state comptroller’s office rebates 1-1/2 percent back to the City of Paris and 1/2 percent back to Lamar County. Of the city’s 1-1/2 percent, 1/4 percent — amounting to about $1 million a year — goes to fund the PEDC.
District 6 Councilwoman Cleonne Drake noted that the name of the organization is the PARIS Economic Development Corporation.
At first, Mayor AJ Hashmi said he supports individuals in the county being eligible to serve on the PEDC, “because they do business in the city.” Also, he said, easing the restrictions would bring in more talent to the applicant pool.
“If that’s the case, why are we stopping at the Red River?” District 3 Councilman John Wright asked.
“I think this is getting too complicated, and I agree, it was voted by the people to be the Paris Economic Development Corporation,” Hashmi said.
“And, this is just a thought, but suppose someone who lives in Reno were appointed to the PEDC? They would have access to confidential information, and what would keep that person from going back to use that information to help Reno?” Hashmi asked.
“I don’t mean that as any reflection against the City of Reno. It could be any other town in the county,” the mayor said.
The city attorney said any changes in PEDC bylaws would require a super majority approval by at least five out of the seven council members.
The council voted unanimously to approve all but the proposed residency change from city to county.
The three other PEDC bylaws changes approved by the council were to align the language with current policy:
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra