Councilwoman: County loan part of economic development
Colusa Councilwoman Donna Critchfield this week likened the recent $5.02 million block grant loan through the county to Premier Mushrooms to the controversial two-year, $200,000 contract the city is paying its economic development consultant.
In fact, the councilwoman seemed a bit surprised, if not actually indignant, that opponents of the city's efforts were not equally upset with the Board of Supervisors.
"I don't see anything wrong with that (county loan)," said Critchfield, explaining her intent is not to be critical of the county's decision.
She viewed it as part of the county's economic development effort.
"We've had a good deal of (angst) from the community, and a good deal of negative comment," said Critchfield, who is the city's liaison to the county board.
She believes the turmoil will scare potential investors away, a familiar refrain from parts of City Hall, and particularly from City Manager Jan McClintock, who this week was placed on paid administrative leave.
The council on Thursday adopted a resolution declaring its intent to terminate McClintock's contract.
In a very real sense, McClintock will likely lose her job, and part of the reason is the discourse that has fragmented the council and to some degree the community.
And much of that discourse is focused on the contract that pays Mark Mayuga nearly $8,000 a month to help develop economic development opportunities for the city.
That policy was reaffirmed with a 3-2 vote in April, but did little to silence a very vocal opposition group.
"If the city does not come together and not get on board with economic development, there will be none," Critchfield said.
However, there are some significant differences between the county's actions and the city.
The $200,000 contract is part of a larger loan from general fund reserves the city made to what is now a defunct redevelopment agency.
However, because of the timing, tax increments that grow in what was the old redevelopment area can still be used to pay back the city with interest.
But those tax increments depend on growing existing businesses and getting new businesses in town.
Supporters of Maya's efforts point to the many contacts he has brought to the city, while opponents do not see any tangible results for the money.
The county's loan, through the federal Community Development Block Grant program and not general fund monies, will be paid back by Premier Mushrooms.
The company will use the funds to restructure some of its debt, which in turn will allow the firm to gain additional private financing to expand the plant and reportedly create 45 additional full-time jobs.
Supervisor Mark Marshall pointed to the company's track record of expansion and job growth as evidence the loan is fiscally sound.
As those funds are paid back, they would become available to reloan into the business community or for certain kinds of low-income housing projects.
The money returned to the city would go to its general fund, and could be used for a variety of things.