GATESVILLE — Coryell County commissioners, with a 3-2 vote Tuesday, delayed action on a strategic economic development plan and irritated members of the Coryell County Economic Development Board in the process.
County Judge John Firth and Commissioners Jack Wall and Justin Latham voted not to approve the EDB’s proposed contract for a $60,000 comprehensive economic development strategy until the board first gets approval from economic development panels in Gatesville and Copperas Cove.
Commissioners Don Jones and Daren Moore voted to approve the EDB pact with Austin-based AngelouEconomics, which would be completed in two $30,000 phases over two years.
“This is a vote of no confidence in the board,” said EDB member Sam Golden after the meeting. “That is not good.”
Firth said he wanted to ensure that economic development planners in Copperas Cove and Gatesville were on board with the county plan. “We need to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength.”
“We just pulled the rug out from under these boys,” Jones said after the vote.
Board member Eric Kietzer, who briefed the commissioners on the proposed plan two weeks ago, expressed surprise at the Tuesday vote. “A key component of the strategic plan is to unite all entities in the county. The plan will create unity and communications.”
After his earlier presentation, the commissioners asked Kietzer to return with a copy of the proposed contract to be reviewed by County Attorney Brandon Belt. Kietzer presented the contract Tuesday, and Belt said he had no concerns with it.
Firth said Cove EDC Executive Director Polo Enriquez told him that members of his board wanted to be briefed on the Angelou plan.
He said the EDB should also brief the Gatesville Economic Development
Board before the county takes action.
Contacted by phone at his office Tuesday, Enriquez said his board did not need such a briefing.
“We don’t want or expect to be briefed by the EDB,” Enriquez said. “Who they hire to do their strategic plan is fine with us. We will work with them. I am sure their strategy will include working with other EDCs.”
Golden and Kietzer said Enriquez has provided guidance to the county board and was the first to urge them to develop a strategic plan.
“I think yours is a wrong vote,” Golden told Firth. “If you lack confidence in us, which you obviously do, dissolve this board and go with Cove (EDC).”
Golden said getting prior approval from other economic development entities is “not part of our mission.” Enriquez agreed.
“We (Cove EDC) don’t think ourselves so highfalutin that we need to check off on what they are doing,” Enriquez said. “We don’t get involved in their business. We look forward to working with those folks. They are our friends and neighbors.”
After the meeting, Kietzer said he did not consider the vote a major setback and will gladly answer any concerns raised by economic planners in Cove and Gatesville.
“If there are concerns, we will address them and move forward,” Kietzer said.
Gatesville City Council Member Barbara Burrow, who sits on both the county and city economic development boards, said she was “very surprised and disappointed” by the delay.
She said plans to brief the city panel on the county’s proposal later this week.