A developer who’s approached the county to bring a wind farm to Melrose lit a fire under Curry County commissioners Tuesday morning to allow County Manager Lance Pyle to ask a municipal advisor general questions pertaining to Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs).
Pyle said he had reached out to three municipal advisors that provide services for IRBs, but failed to mention the names of any.
Their price ranges are between $100 to $250 per hour, he added.
The developer, Pyle continued, had asked him two questions – one pertaining to Dodd Frank and another to IRBs – that Pyle cannot adequately answer without seeking advice from a municipal advisor or someone with knowledge of IRBs and how they work.
The payment for the advisor, Pyle explained, would be coming out of a $15,000 payment the developer had agreed to pay the county, but as of Tuesday morning had not done so.
“Lance, if indeed the developer has A, B and C that he has to do and he hasn’t done it yet, then why are we going to expend money on a municipal advisor for something that may not even come to fruition?” Commissioner Angelina Baca asked. “While it’s a good idea later on, I think it’s premature … Hold his feet to the fire to take care of what he needs to first and foot the bill for it before we start absorbing any costs.”
Baca then asked what role Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry could have in the agreement, if any.
Pyle said that Gentry is under contract with the county for $5,000 annually to help with any economic development opportunities, but added that Gentry has not attended any meetings Pyle has had with the developer.
“Chase was here when this came up and spoke to this issue and seemed ready and willing and able to assist with whatever capacity,” Baca replied. “I think he needs to be brought in before we spend money hiring someone else.”
“Well Commissioner Baca, this is my – as your manager – this is my first IRB to even handle in my 17 years with the county,” Pyle responded. “This will also be the first IRB the county has ever issued. I’m not an expert, I’m learning … I have been advised we can’t incur expenses, but at the same time we need to promote economic development in this county. The developer has called with numerous questions I don’t know how to answer. I’ve never dealt with that before. We don’t have someone on payroll to assist (with IRBs).”
Pyle added he had been approached by Commissioner Wendell Bostwick, who noted in previous meetings that he had been approached by the developer for a wind energy project, that the county needed “to be ready to go once we get the plan … not drag out the process, we need to be ready once that comes in so the developer can get done what needs to get done with the project.”
“Lance touched on my statements. Curry County should be the leader instead of CIDC,” Bostwick said. “The county covers the whole county. CIDC basically can help within 15 miles of a municipality. That leaves a lot of areas in the county that would not be privy to assistance for an IRB. Second, Curry County has never done this before … IRBs are unique to New Mexico, which makes us unique for financing, and when you have investors with dollars and it’s a unique place to do business, certain questions have to be answered that our manager has not had the privilege to answer. I just want our manager to call someone and give a simple answer.”
Commissioner Chet Spear, who publicly said he did not want to know who the municipal advisor is after having conflict with County Finance Advisor Rob Burpo, asked why the developer would not have his own bond advisor.
“My understanding is that it’s a requirement that he has to hire his own bond advisor, the county has to hire our own advisor to do due diligence,” Pyle said. “The developer doesn’t want to be under additional expenses and wants the county to advise on it.”
County Attorney Steve Doerr chimed in, noting that the county could face a liability if they provided inaccurate information or advice to the developer.
“If Curry County doesn’t start down the road someplace and answer basic questions … Curry County will wonder why we’re not at the table when it’s time to write taxes and IRBs,” Bostwick said.
“My concern is this developer hasn’t done his part yet,” Baca said, and followed with a failed motion to table the discussion to the Dec. 15 meeting.
Pyle said the developer was scheduled to come before the commission on Nov. 3, but didn’t because “nothing was in place,” and the developer was set to present Tuesday, but didn’t.
“He doesn’t want to come publicly until he gets everything lined up,” Pyle said. “He wants to wait for that.”
Bostwick made the motion “to allow the manager to contact and pay an advisor, a municipal advisor that understands IRBs and the process to answer general questions that come from any potential developer.”
The motion passed 4-1, with Baca the lone opposing vote.
Commissioners also approved 2016 capital outlay and legislative priorities, which include:
• Road improvements for $1,435,000
• Water infrastructure improvements for $250,000
• Broadview Fire Department for $625,000
• A new Juvenile Detention Center roof for $128,100
Also discussed during the meeting were changes made to the 2016 comprehensive plan draft, and commissioners voted to not install a canopy on the west side of the 417 Gidding street building.
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