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Divided council OKs $100,000 for unnamed economic development project

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Feb. 15, 2011 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2011 at 8:15 p.m.

David Hagan

David Hagan

Whatever project the Victoria Economic Development Corporation is working on, it has an extra $100,000 to get it done.

The Victoria City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve the additional funds be added to the VEDC budget for an unnamed economic development project. The Victoria Sales Tax Development Board of Directors had approved the budget change at its Feb. 3 meeting.

Council members David Hagan and Gabriel Soliz voted against the VEDC budget increase.

"While I have 100 percent support for this endeavor and hope for its success, but because of the uncertainty of its success I don't think it would be prudent to spend $100,000 of taxpayers' money," Hagan said.

"We are not spending $100,000, we are making it available," said councilman Paul Polasek. "There's a strong chance that less than half of that could be spent as I understand it. That money that is not spent is returned back to the sales tax corporation, correct?"

"Correct," answered Mayor Will Armstrong, who also sits on the sales tax board along with councilmen Tom Halepaska and Joe Truman.

Armstrong also reiterated the need for the project to remain unnamed while negotiations are ongoing.

Soliz also expressed his concern.

"We have huge amounts of infrastructure projects to do," he said. "Prioritizing enterprise over infrastructure is a slippery slope. I would feel more comfortable if this was approved through the council itself through general fund.

"I think this is a beneficial opportunity for Victoria. I am just not comfortable with the approach," said Soliz.

"How long before the citizenry will know what's going on?" he asked.

Armstrong referred the the question to Dale Fowler, VEDC executive director.

"Within six weeks. We should know by then whether we are able to move forward or not," Fowler said.

Truman expressed his support for the increased funding and the project.

"The return on investment of $100,000 will be a thousand fold on this," Truman said. "I can't be pinching a penny at this time when the potential that this can bring to Victoria is just astronomical. To me this is us moving forward into the 21st century. We need to put our money where our mouth is."

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