IDA studying changes in budget after service deal

Ashley Biles Associate Editor

October 2, 2013

Executive Director Kyle Fletcher described upcoming 2014 as a “new world” for the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority due to the new joint project structure of the entity under the City of Thomaston and Upson County. She noted that some of the changes include the cost of rental space and utilities and several line items for the TUIDA’s budget for next year, on which she is working closely with both the city and county manager. Even with all the changes, Fletcher noted that the TUIDA is coming in under budget for this year.

“We are eight months into the year and we have only used 50 percent of our budget,” stated Fletcher. “We are working well within our financial means.”

TUIDA Board member Scott Blackstock asked if the board finished the year under budget could the extra money be held over and used to pay off some of the debt? TUIDA Attorney Joel Bentley stated that it could not as of this year, but could possibly be used that way next year. He noted that decision would be up to the city and county governments since the funding for the TUIDA will be coming from both.

Fletcher informed the board that so far the budget planning process for next year is going well and work is being done on the policies and procedures for the TUIDA since the entity will no longer be under county government.

Also during the meeting, she asked the board to begin thinking about the money that the county has set aside for the TUIDA and potential ways it could be used so that the board would be prepared to make a presentation to the commissioners. She noted that during their presentation, the TUIDA board had talked about using it for debt reduction, infrastructure completion and incentives. However, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston, who also serves on the TUIDA board, told Fletcher that was not how the board had intended the additional funding to be used.

“It was and still is the intention of the board (of commissioners) that the money be collected and placed in an account. That money is just to be used to sway people to come here, not for infrastructure improvements, not to pay off debts,” said Blackston.

He added that the money could be used to pay off the debt on the spec building if it was part of an incentive deal for a company looking to locate here who wanted ownership of the building. Blackston also stated if the money has not been used in five years, then there would be $3 million in the account.

“And if we haven’t coaxed someone to come here in five years with that kind of money, then we have got a problem,” said Blackston.

In other business, the board approved a farm lease agreement with Mr. Dar Bohnenstiehl for 150 acres in the Central Georgia Business and Technology Park. Mr. Bohnenstiehl bid $1,800 for the year-long lease which will run from October 1, 2013 until September 30, 2014, unless the land is needed for a business moving into the park. Fletcher noted that Bohnenstiehl has leased the land for many years and keeps it well maintained with the crops he grows on it.

Finally, new signage will be put up at the Central Georgia Business and Technology Park. Fletcher told the board that several of the signs were decaying and still had the old logo from when the TUIDA was under the Chamber of Commerce. The new signs will show that the park is GRAD certified and should be in place soon.