However, board members also stated that before the finalization of the withdrawal, they would like to hold a meeting with the other governmental entities involved, to determine if an agreement could be worked out that would allow the board more say so in the granting of tax abatements.
Citing their reasons for the withdrawal from the agreement, board members said they felt they did not have enough input in which industries would get tax incentives and which industries would not.
The initial agreement, signed by the Polk Board of Education along with other governmental entities in June of 2000, stipulates tax incentives to attract new industry into Polk County.
The agreement also states that “any parties shall have the right to terminate the agreement by giving a advance written notice within twelve months of any such termination.”
Voting to send notification of the intent to withdraw were board members Frank Plant, Tommy Sanders, Harold Lumpkin, Guy Rutland and Chairman Rick Lundy. Voting against were Dr. Harold Wingfield, Regina Roberts, Bettie Faye Lewis and Beth Warner.
Lumpkin made the motion to “notify the intergovernmental agencies that we intend to withdraw, pending our coming to the table for a meeting of the minds.”
Lumpkin voiced his concerns over lack of information concerning tax incentive bestowment. “I don’t want for everybody to vote one way, and us vote another way…I’m saying, give us all the expertise, give us all the information you have, so then we can make an intelligent decision. Don’t pass it over to use and say ‘You’ve got 30 minutes to decide what to do.’ “
Lumpkin’s motion was seconded by Plant.
Chairman Lundy then opened the floor for discussion on the item.
Lewis spoke first. She stated, “I’m not convinced that this will settle anything, simply because I have, for months, requested that this board come together as one governing body and try to make plans. If we can’t work with each other, how are we going to work with someone else?”
Lundy also spoke on his stance concerning the matter.
“I am for tax abatements, but I am for having input on to whom, and when, and for what amount of time the abatements are given. I am troubled by the information that I’ve received and the lack of information over the course of time on tax abatements…”
Lundy stated that there are several adjoining counties, who, from lack of funding had to cut several school sponsored events, like their after-school programs. Lundy expressed that he did not want that to happen in the Polk School system.
“I want to be able to compare the amount of dollars that we will be giving up versus the need. For me to vote for this, we have to agree that we are going to actively pursue dialogue combined through our Intergovernmental Committee, and come back to this board and show a very positive, progressive step forward..” said the chairman.