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Board member still at odds with Chamber pact
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Dear Editor,

On Nov. 24, the Effingham Herald page 1, published an article, “IDA Agrees to New Deal” with the Chamber of Commerce. As a member of Effingham County Industrial Authority Board, I was the only vote against the agreement, while the seven other board members voted for the agreement.

I have been on the board for six and a half years, since May 2003, and have always been questioning the relationship of the board since 2004 when we (taxpayers) the EIDA paid for the sign in front of the building with the Chamber name on top and EIDA on the bottom, hidden by flowers.

Let’s go back to before 2002 when the Chamber and IDA moved into the beautiful $900,000 taxpayers paid-for yellow building on the bypass. By the way, I have been told by some people they thought the Chamber owned that building, when they don’t. It belongs to the taxpayers.

Prior to moving into the EIDA Building in 2002, the Chamber and IDA both had offices on the top floor of the old C&S Bank/Bank of America Building. Neither party, it is my understanding, paid any rent. There may be some question as to the IDA accepting free rent while maintaining banking accounts with the owners of the property.

In designing the current IDA building, no thought was given to separate the two entities with regards to rent or expenses. Over the years, they basically paid no expense except for a short period where the Chamber paid for the IDA to keep the Chamber’s books.

Then in 2008, the CEO of the EIDA, John Henry, came up with the idea of entering into a contract with the Chamber. John Henry used the following from the 1986 Act setting up the IDA. Section F, Par. 6, and I quote, “To make contracts and to execute all instruments necessary or convenient including contracts for construction of projects and leases and rental and sale of projects, or contracts wit respect to the use of projects which it erects or acquires.”

I questioned the legality of John Henry, CEO, with using this as a pretext for entering the contract under the preceding quote, and our EIDA lawyer. The lawyer, Mr. Fentress, said it was legal. I stated it wasn’t since it has never been tested in court.

The cited reference for creating the contract has no mention of entering into an agreement with a business not associated with development of any industrial property. The 2009 contract states, Par. 1, B, to plan, coordinate and host an annual existing Industry Appreciation Event. In the end, the EIDA paid for the food and music/ entertainment costing $4000.

There are items in the contract from 2009/2010 that we don’t need. The EIDA could do for themselves for less money. Remember last year we paid basically $79,000 to the Chamber, then they paid us $50,000 back, also they paid no rent, no lights, no maintenance, or insurance, nor property taxes. If I ever find another house like that kind of deal, I would like to. The EIDA, some months, according to an expense sheet, pays $700 a month for phone service. But the EIDA is not listed in the telephone book.    

There is more information concerning the Chamber/EIDA, but space is limited. Any question can be referred to me. Those board members who voted for the contract didn’t vote against the contract, but against the taxpayers of Effingham County.

Arthur Rud Sr.

P.S.  To those board members who made the comment, “We will make some people mad if we vote against the contract,” “tough luck.” Also remember the Chamber is basically under no legal obligation to open their records to the public.