Council may triple gift to development agency In return, seat sought on authority's board

February 09, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Council appeared willing last night to triple its $10,000 gift to the Howard County Economic Development Authority in return for a seat on the authority's board of directors.

"I still swear they told us last year we would have a seat on the board," because of the $10,000 pledged to the authority by the Columbia Association, said Councilman David W. Berson of the village of River Hill.

The council is the Columbia Association board of directors.

During a work session last night on the CA's proposed $38 million budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1, Mr. Berson urged the council to triple its gift to the authority next year, provided the authority meets certain requirements.

The authority did "a great job" bringing new jobs to Columbia, Mr. Berson said, but failed to include the council in its decision- making -- something council members believe they had been promised. He sought to remedy that by tying strings or "hurdles" to the proposed gift.

Under his proposal, the first $10,000 would be contingent on three things: 45 percent of new jobs would have to be in Columbia (about the same as this year), the Columbia Council would have to be represented on the development authority's marketing committee, and the authority would have to provide the council with monthly written reports and quarterly verbal reports.

If at least 50 percent of new jobs in the county next year were in Columbia, the development authority would receive $20,000 under Mr. Berson's proposal. It would receive $30,000 if at least 55 percent of all new jobs in the county were in Columbia and the council was given a seat and voice on the authority's board of directors.

The development authority appears to have met the first requirement. Authority President Donora Dingman gave the council a written and an oral report Jan. 25 and promised the council a seat on the authority's marketing committee. Columbia Councilman Gary Glisan of Oakland Mills will begin sitting on that committee today.

The proposal may need "fine-tuning," said Council Chairwoman Karen A. Keucher of Owen Brown, but "we want to send a strong signal" to the authority.

She asked Mr. Glisan to share that message at today's meeting of the authority's marketing committee.

Although the council took no vote on the proposal, most members tended to agree with Councilwoman Suzanne S. Waller of Town Center, who supported "the spirit" of Mr. Berson's proposal.

"We're saying Columbia is an important entity and we want to have a voice," she said. "The bottom line is the economic vitality of Columbia and the maintenance of our quality of life."

Earlier last night, the council appointed treasurer Rafia P. Siddiqui vice president for administrative services at the CA.

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