Members disagree on how to spend EDC funds

A heated discussion occurred Tuesday evening about how to spend funds at the conclusion of the Italy Economic Development Corporation meeting.

Mark Stiles, president, blamed citizens that do not want to see the community grow after Tom Little, EDC member, pointed out that the citizens voted in 1995 or 1996 to use this money for the fire department and related equipment.

Little said he understood that later the state changed the law but said this was how the citizens voted to spend this money. He suggested the EDC build a joint civic center and fire station.

Stiles, raising his voice, said there are people in this town that do not want to see it grow. He told Little that an attorney general’s opinion indicates EDC money cannot be spent in this manner.

“We cannot spend funds we collect on fire equipment or a civic center.” Again raising his voice, Stiles continued, “We have spent a year talking about this and there are always innuendos and letters. We are here to help this town grow. This matter is already settled.”

Stiles continued, “I have other things to do rather than be road blocked. This town is going nowhere fast!”

In other business, David Miracle, consultant, presented board members with a four-page report outlining a SWOT analysis. SWOT includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The information from this analysis was taken from a recent Strategic Plan Steering Committee workshop.

Miracle said, “As with all stakeholder focus groups when asked about the community’s strengths and weaknesses, there are conflicting responses.”

He indicated that industry, for example, was listed as both a strength and a weakness. Retail and hotel industries were listed as a community strength, but the lack of industry was listed as a weakness.

He said the public school system is also listed in both categories. There are strengths regarding the number of graduates and the relationship with Navarro College. The weakness is the fact that there is no middle school campus.

Miracle said the water capacity and quality are both weaknesses and threats.

He concluded, “The workshop provided valuable insight into the perceptions the community has of its self. These perceptions may be reality, and with the baseline analysis, those can be verified. However, the SWOT analysis has provided the stakeholders of Italy the opportunity to begin planning and implementing economic development strategies to address their challenges.”

During financial reports, Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said the EDC has approximately $138,000 in the money market account and a little over $5,000 in the operating account after October bills were paid.

She said there is one more $26,000 payment due on the fire truck. Stiles instructed her to check the loan’s interest rate. He indicated it might be cheaper to pay off the note rather than paying interest for another year.

The board also approved minutes of the previous meeting, approved bills and discussed upcoming economic development seminars.