Pharos-Tribune

July 8, 2012

Mayor sees compromise on horizon

by Kelly Hawes
Pharos-Tribune

— Mayor Ted Franklin suggested last week that the city might reach a compromise with the Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation.

“I don’t know that anyone will get exactly what they want, but I think they’ll work it out,” he said during an interview in his office on Thursday.

The Logansport City Council on Monday had passed on a vote of 4-3 an ordinance put forward by Councilman Bob Bishop.

Bishop has said he doesn’t think taxpayers are adequately represented in LEDF, which has two elected officials on its seven-member executive committee and four elected officials on its 21-member board.

He has suggested that if LEDF won’t compromise on the makeup of its board, the city might cut its funding, which amounted to about

$88,000 last year.

Hammons and others have expressed concerns about the timing of the fight. They note that LEDF is in the midst of an effort to recruit an experienced economic development professional to lead the organization, and they question whether such an individual would be willing to step into a situation where a portion of the agency’s funding might be in doubt.

Franklin said he understood the concerns expressed by Bishop.

“This is an important decision for LEDF, and he wants to make sure the taxpayers have a voice,” he said.

But Franklin said he also understood the reluctance of LEDF representatives to go along with the plan.

“I see both sides, really,” he said.

Franklin suggested that the two sides would find middle ground and then revisit the issue when the city’s contract with LEDF expires in about two years.

The LEDF executive committee has been inviting representatives of the city and county councils to join its meetings, but Franklin didn’t say whether he thought making that change formal would be an adequate concession.

He noted that the ordinance now on the books called for LEDF to be the city’s lead agency in economic development matters. The ordinance put forward by Bishop, he said, gives city government that role.

At the same meeting where it approved Bishop’s proposed ordinance, the city council also approved $130,000 for economic development efforts spearheaded by Franklin and two consulting companies.

“When I first ran for mayor, I campaigned on the fact that I thought the city should have its own economic development effort,” he said. “I still think that. If businesses don’t want to work through LEDF, they should have the option of working directly with the city.”

Aside from paying the consultants’ retainers, Franklin has been vague about how the $130,000 the council allocated will be spent.

He indicated, though, that good news might be on the horizon.

“I hope so,” he said. “I hope we’ll have an announcement soon.”

He declined, though, to offer any guarantees.

“It’s a crapshoot, really,” he said. “You just never know what’s going to happen, but if you don’t throw the dice, you don’t have a chance.”

• Kelly Hawes is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5155 or kelly.hawes@pharostribune.com.