This page deals with matters previously before Council, and summarizes past controversial actions. Iíll date each entry every time I make a change. As always, I reserve the right to vote freely, and in consideration of all the information and opinions available to me at the time the vote is taken.
County Purchase of Commerce ParkApril 7, 2011
One appraisal is now completed regarding the Beaufort Commerce Park, the Lowcountry Economic Networkís (LEN) property near the MCAS.As you may remember, my dissent resulted in a widely publicized debate regarding the propriety of the County proposed purchase that eventually led to tabling the idea at third and final reading until additional information could be obtained: independent appraisals, and a recommendation from a blue ribbon panel.The appraisal from R.L. Murphy, the first of two ordered, shows the value at $2 million.This is no surprise, and is the main point of my opposition to the purchase.Why should the County purchase property for $2.5 million when it is worth less than that? Why should taxpayers be burdened with this negative equity?Had the banks not changed financing arrangements for LEN, none of this would have been necessary. I could discuss ďmark to marketĒ ratios and federal guidelines for equity management, but absent a change from the banks, LEN would have continued on with their ownership of the property, trying to find jobs for Beaufort County and the Region. As it is, this action would be a breach of the public trust, (our fiduciary responsibility to safeguard public funds,) and probably contrary to law. Further, Iím generally opposed to governments competing with private citizens.Itís just wrong.Governments have a clear advantage: to demand better financing, to force its competitors to pay taxes (while they donít) and isnít bound by profit motivation.When done, the practice is always unfair to taxpayers and to the private enterprise providing competition.This is not to say a government canít provide a service for itself that might be available from private enterprise, such as repairing a road with a County crew, as opposed to paying a private contractor to do it.Each instance needs to be weighed for cost effectiveness and effect. I voted against this proposal at Council.Although Iíve received significant pressure from proponents of the deal I will continue my opposition until its dead and buried.