Keith Wallace

David Ball – For The Record

The Orange County Economic Development Corporation is running out of supporters.

The Port of Orange is the most recent governmental entity not to fund the Orange County Economic Development Corporation following the city of Orange and Orange County after they chose not to fund. The decision was made at the regular meeting of the Port of Orange Board of Commissioners on August 10. The vote was four to one with Commissioner Keith Wallace casting the only no vote.

Gene Bouillion, port director, said the Orange County Commissioners placed on its meeting agenda later that afternoon on August 10 to review its position. The commissioners voted not to fund the OCEDC the prior week.

“We can wait until they come back with their proposal,” he said.

Wallace said nobody wants to write a check not knowing what’s going on.

Bouillion said the Port provided 45 percent or $100,000 of the OCEDC $300,000 budget for last year. The Port’s contribution is the largest of any governmental entity in Orange County.

He added the OCEDC may be making some changes and they should hear them out before making a decision.

Jerry Hughes, port president, said the Port could turn the decision over to the other governmental entities and let them make the political decisions.

“We’ve been here before. We’re back where we’ve started. It’s not much fun being in this position,” he said.

Wallace suggested the Port could maybe contribute more to the OCEDC so it won’t hurt the other entities as much.

James Smith, board vice president, said he would hate to see the OCEDC dissolve, but they have to results from them.

Hughes said Jefferson County doesn’t have an economic development corporation and use their chambers of commerce instead.

“They make it work as big as they are,” he said. “They county’s decision doesn’t change our part. The community is not happy (with the OCEDC).”

Smith agreed and said he has received several phone calls from constituents expressing the same sentiment.

Bouillion said the Port could “let it ride” in the budget and see what the county decides. He also wanted the Port to be reimbursed in what they paid in PILOT payments- Payments In Lieu Of Taxes.

Commissioner John Young rhetorically asked what does the Port gain by supporting the OCEDC.

Bouillion said the Port will not be much affected because their tax rate is so low. Also, it takes 10 years for tax abatements to take effect.

Hughes said if the commissioners wanted they could always amend their budget and “start over again.”

Alan Sanders, Port attorney, said their Interlocal Agreement with the OCEDC states they must give notice by August 30 they will not renew their funding for next year.