The city of Edgerton has grossly missed the mark when it comes to the issuance of $500 million in industrial revenue bonds for facilities to be constructed in the KC Logistics Park.
The council approved the issuance of the IRBs, which would translate into a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement, at its July 8 meeting, but only after sarcastic, almost condescending remarks from Scott Anderson, bond counsel with Kutak Rock LLC.
Anderson told the council it was “contractually obligated” to approve a resolution of intent on the issue – in essence, saying ‘yes’ to the IRB issuance. He said council members could discuss the topic and take action on it later, but that action had to be taken on the issue eventually.
Perhaps the council should have indeed waited on approving the resolution. Council President Clay Longanecker was absent from the meeting, and City Administrator David Dillner had handed council members an incomplete cost benefit analysis shortly before the meeting started. Thus, council members did not even have complete information in front of them on which to base an educated decision. The council should have tabled action on the resolution until all council members could attend the next meeting and have time to review the complete cost benefit analysis.
The fact that Anderson made his comments directly before a public hearing on the issuance of the bonds is even more disturbing. By essentially saying Edgerton was contractually bound to issue a resolution of intent, there seems to be little point in encouraging public discussion. If the decision had already been made, there likely wasn’t much residents could say to sway council members one way or another. There is little reason to have a public hearing if it is treated as a mere legal formality and not an exchange of opinions and ideas.
We also are disappointed to see the absence of representatives from USD 231 from Edgerton council meetings until now. Although we applaud Superintendent Bill Gilhaus’ statements to the governing body, we believe they have come too little, too late. If the school district had been actively participating in discussions and action surrounding the KC Logistics Park, there would be no need to make an 11th-hour appeal to council on behalf of the Gardner and Edgerton taxpayers who will foot this gargantuan bill. We hope Dr. Gilhaus and other school district representatives will learn from this meeting and make their presence known at future IRB meetings as buildings await construction.
If the events of the July 8 meeting are any indication of how the city of Edgerton and the school district are poised to handle the arrival of the largest project in the state, we are concerned for area residents and the management of their tax dollars.