Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mike King named to FCDA board by city


By Pat Cooper

At Thursday night’s meeting, the Peachtree City council voted to appoint councilman Mike King to take a place on the Fayette County Development Authority and to sign a new intergovernmental agreement with the county which allowed the city to choose who would serve on the authority board.
Two weeks ago, after a shake up on the FCDA board that saw five new members appointed, and the announcement that its CEO Matt Forshee would be leaving to take another position, Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch appeared before the commission to protest a proposal that would keep the Peachtree City Airport Authority from holding its long-time seat on the FCDA and replacing it with a member of the commission’s choosing.
During the commission’s retreat in April, county attorney Dennis Davenport had pointed out that an earlier agreement had established a nine-member board for the FCDA. He explained that five members are appointed by the Board of Commissioners, and the other members are appointed by the City of Fayetteville, the Town of Tyrone, the Peachtree City Development Authority (PTCDA), and the Peachtree City Airport Authority (PTCAA).
Since the Peachtree City Development Authority had been disbanded, Davenport needed to know how the commission wanted to fill the ninth position and how they should go about revising the Intergovernmental Agreement that covers those decisions.
The board wanted to revise the intergovernmental agreement to give the PTCAA position to the city of Peachtree City for their selection, and wanted the PTCDA position to revert back to a commission choice.
That would mean the FCDA would have six members appointed by the board of commissioners, one
appointment from the City of Peachtree City, one appointment from the City of Fayetteville, and one appointment from the Town of Tyrone. Though there was no official vote, commissioners agreed in theory to the process.
Fleisch said she wanted the intergovernmental agreement be amended to eliminate the representative from the PTCDA, which no longer existed, and be replaced with a citizen representative appointed by the Peachtree City mayor and city council.”
More than that, Fleisch wanted the representative from the PTCAA to remain on the FCDA.
She pointed out that as a separate entity, the airport authority contributed significantly to the region’s economic health through the industrial park, which compromised 84 percent of the industrial land in the county.
Fleisch also noted that the Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field contributes an estimated $140 million to Fayette County and the region’s economy each year. As noted, they are a separate governmental agency, with a separate mission and separate customers from Peachtree City.
“It is difficult to imagine the FCDA achieving its highest potential level of success if the PTCAA is excluded.
Additionally, PTCAA chairman Richard S. Whitely put forth his own support of the city stance in an email to the commission.
“The PTCAA board is united in its position that it will not voluntarily abdicate its seat on the FCDA board. The entire board feels strongly, as must have previous decision makers, that the airport is a key economic development driver for the entire county and therefore should have a seat on the development authority.
The resistance caused the county to rethink its stance, though freely admitting that it had concerns about the FCDA’s outreach and communication with county and municipal governments.
In a letter to Fleisch, county commission chairman Steve Brown noted that the board was “focusing on creating a more active and energetic development authority in an attempt to take advantage of our quality of life statistics and our current economic growth momentum.
“Although the airport authority is seen as an important part of the mix that makes Fayette County marketable to businesses looking for a new home, the thought of having the flexibility to select certain role players rather than mandating a post was appealing.”
Brown pointed out that airport authority chairman Richard S. Whitely had attended only three FCDA meetings since June 2012 and said he felt more commitment was needed to focus on the growing economic development prospects.
After listening to Fleisch, he said, another discussion among the commissioners was held.
“We were going to offer Peachtree City two appointed board positions of your choice, removing the mandate for the airport authority chairman.”
If Peachtree City elected to keep the airport authority position, they could make it happen.
“Our goal was to create more flexibility in the appointment procedure,” adding that if the council was willing to be accountable for the participation of its choices, the new appointment decisions would be honored.


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