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City EDC, Council fires County EDC

ORANGE —As the Orange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is finalizing agreements with a company planning to invest approximately $50 million into the area; the City of Orange EDC discussed renewing a contract with the county EDC.

City of Orange membership dues for the fiscal year 2015-2016 were estimated at $24,917 based on an invoice for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

As part of the Interlocal Agreement, dated November 12, 2002, with the Port of Orange, Orange County, and the cities of Pinehurst, West Orange, Bridge City and Vidor, “each contracting party shall give written notice to all other contracting parties advising them of the notifying party’s decision whether or not to continue participation for the following year no later than August 30 immediately preceding the conclusion of any contract year. “

“The invoice reflects 11-percent of the membership dues,” Jay Trahan, City of Orange EDC director, said at the Tuesday council meeting.

City Manager Shawn Oubre made a recommendation to terminate the contract with the county EDC.

“One year ago we met with the EDC,” City EDC President George Mortimer said. “The guidelines we presented were not met. We asked to fund an agreement with the County EDC. Are we doing the right thing with the funds?”

Councilmember Larry Spears Jr. questioned what benefits the city would lose by not renewing the contract.

“There are other consulting forms that do the same thing,” Oubre said. “For multiple years we have had no responses from the Orange County EDC or Director. For several years we have not had the results we desire.”

“This is Ground Hog Day all over again,” City EDC Vice-President Dean Granger said. “We had the exact same discussion one year ago. We asked them to come to us, communicate with us.”

Granger asked the council and EDC to have an 11th hour discussion with the county EDC.

“I am frustrated with them,” Councilmember Mary McKenna said. “We have met with them, came up with a plan. We asked for quarterly reports and to work together. We got nada.”

Councilmember Patrick Pullen questioned if the city could renew the contract if there were changes.

“We owe the taxpayers of Orange,” Councilmember Larry Spears Jr. said. “To give $25,000 to something and not getting anything in return.”

Dean Granger voted against terminating the contract.

“I want to slow down the process,” Granger said.

Councilmember Bill Mello also opposed terminating the contract.

“This is not a time to split,” Mello said. “We need to be united.”

Orange County EDC Director Bobby Fillyaw said the difference would be absorbed into the County EDC budget.

“Our board has not met to discuss this yet,” Fillyaw said in a phone interview.

Fillyaw also said the County EDC is in the beginning stages of the budget process at this time.