The Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) is another step closer to existence, but it is still a couple of years away from becoming the economic organization for the county, according to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
Somerset City Council approved the agreement Monday in an unanimous vote. Girdler explained that the current organization, the Somerset Pulaski County Development Foundation (SPCDF), would continue to serve the county during the transition — until SPEDA is up and running.
Then, SPCDF would be merged or incorporated into the new agency in some way.
Girdler said the new organization would be “quasi-governmental” which would give it the ability to issue bonds. “Members will be appointed both by the City Council and the Fiscal Court,” he said.
The Mayor added that this new interlocal agreement tied into another agreement that was passed by the council two weeks ago, one which amended the occupational tax agreement to extended it for a further five years.
County government approved both interlocal agreements at a meeting two weeks ago.
Mayor Girdler said the $800,000 in occupational tax that is earmarked for economic development would be funneled into SPEDA over time to provide funding for the new agency. The city and county both have the option to provide additional money if needed, he said.
The interlocal agreement calls for SPEDA:
• To be perpetual in duration, but it can be terminated in accordance to certain provisions (including 120 days written notice).
• To develop bylaws that “more specifically set out its purposes and limitations.
• To be comprised of eight directors — the Somerset Mayor, the County Judge-Executive (both serving as long as they are in office), three directors chosen by the mayor and approved by city council, and three directors chosen by the judge and approved by fiscal court (all six serving no more than two staggered, four-year terms consecutively).
Councilor Tom Eastham called the move a positive for both government bodies. “I see this as a way to bring the city and county together,” he said.
Councilor John Adams threw his support behind the agreement. He referred to comments by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin who said billions of dollars have been pledged by businesses for statewide economic development. “We need to work with the county as much as we can to get our share.”