The city’s representatives on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors said they would support the Common Council in negotiations on a contract to provide water to an extension of the Florida Business Park.
Three aldermen and Mayor Ann Thane met Tuesday with the five city supervisors and Florida Supervisor William Strevy to discuss the city’s position with regard to providing water for the park’s extension.
Aldermen also agreed to provide more support to the city’s Codes Department on Tuesday at a codes committee meeting.
Montgomery County has acquired land and has an option to purchase more between the Target Distribution Center and Fort Hunter Road to expand the Florida Business Park, according to county Economic Development and Planning Director Ken Rose.
Rose said he needs the city’s support in applying for a federal Economic Development Agency grant to fund the water and sewer extension for the park. Aldermen tabled a resolution last week that authorized the city to be a part of the grant application. Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, said he would like to negotiate further with the county.
Wills said he is tired of the city providing water to other municipalities, which are reaping the economic benefits of development while the city is decaying.
“There is no reason to build in the city when water is available in the towns,” Wills said.
After aldermen agreed to hold the meeting in open session, Wills listed some of the city’s needs from the county, including a new sales tax agreement that would give the city a larger share of revenues and a non-compete clause between the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency and the Montgomery County IDA.
Vito Greco, 1st Ward supervisor and chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said the city has a “precious commodity” in its water and he didn’t feel that any municipality should be “held hostage” because of its need for it.
Greco said if it’s land the city needs, officials should ask for it in their water agreement, something Supervisor Strevy said he would entertain.
Greco said there are other ways to improve city finances and one of them is by expanding the tax base.
The city’s corporation counsel, Gerard DeCusatis, said the city wants to share in the additional revenue the towns are receiving by using the city’s water to create development. He said charging outside water users 50 percent more than city users pay is not enough.
DeCusatis said a system of revenue-sharing could be created whereby the city receives a portion of the increased tax revenue created by development made possible by city water.
“It’s less dramatic than receiving land, but with many of the same benefits,” DeCusatis said.
Greco said he wanted to make sure that any decision was done fairly to every town, village and city in Montgomery County.
“We don’t want to limit economic growth because without it everyone is finished, so let’s do this fairly,” he said. “I’ll support what the city wants, but remember we are only five people and there are 10 other supervisors on the board.”
Rose is asking the city to provide 44,000 gallons of water a day and handle 44,000 gallons of wastewater per day for the project.
Rose said there are a couple of businesses that are interested in moving to the park. He said the county is competing for the companies and he needs to tell the business owners where the project stands.
“I need to know how long these negotiations are going to take, so I can do my job,” Rose said.
In other business, aldermen agreed to provide equipment for the Codes Department so employees could participate in a new software system acquired by the city’s Fire Department. The software would house a database with information on various city properties.
Aldermen were also in favor of hiring a part time employee in the Codes Department to cite garbage and vegetation violations.
Code Enforcement Officers Thomas McQuade and Luis Aguero said the additional person would help the department.
“It would obviously help. We have more work than is humanly possible,” McQuade said.