The Van Alstyne City Council met in a special meeting Tuesday night, with three items on the agenda. Those items were the second of three required public hearings regarding the proposed 2018 tax rate of $0.595932 per $100 property valuation; possible removal or appointment of members of the Planning & Zoning Commission; and removal of Van Alstyne Economic Development Corporation board of directors. It was the last item that took up most of the meeting’s time, with the result of Council Members removing all five of the EDC Board Members from their volunteer service.
EDC Board Member David Hips and Executive Director Jodi Carr addressed the Council prior to any motion and vote regarding the incident. Hips’ comments centered around remarks made at the previous Tuesday’s meeting by an aggravated resident, who had told the Council his phone calls to EDC were left unanswered. Hips said they went through all the phone logs from August forward and could find no calls from the resident. He also commented on alleged problems with Community Development Corporation and the City Council.
Carr reminded the Council that EDC has several projects they are trying to close, which will bring more industry into the city. She also provided information on state regulations affecting EDC.
Council Member Marla Butler made the motion to remove all EDC Board members and having Carr report directly to the City Manager until a new EDC board was approved. Council member Ryan Neal seconded it, after answering someone’s question asking who it was that put this on the agenda. He did, he said.
Council Member Robert Jaska responded to Hips’ complaint that CDC was also at fault. Jaska said he also serves on CDC, and was speaking as a CDC Board member rather than as City Council Member. He said that CDC’s actions have been examined by professionals and found to be without wrongdoing. The discussion got a little heated between him and Council Member Suzon Crowell, and Mayor Steve Riley brought it back into direction. Council Member Lee Thomas commented that he supports EDC and CDC, and did not appreciate the earlier comment chastising the Council.
When Riley called for a vote by show of hands, it was Neal, Butler, Jaska, and Thomas for removing the current EDC Board members and having its director report to City Manager. Crowell voted against the motion.
Members of the EDC Board included Hips, chairman Kaaren Teuber, James Lewis, J.D. Ballard, and Darin Clum.
The Council then went into closed session to discuss items pertaining to the development of the Mantua area. After returning to open meeting, the Council voted to execute a professional service agreement with Risland US Holdings, Dallas Division, the corporation beginning a complete rebuilding of the Mantua area.
Earlier in the meeting, no one spoke up in the property tax rate public hearing, and the Council voted to take no action on P&Z Board Member additions or removals.