QDC board reacts to city council actions

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A change to the budget and controversy over a city council decision sparked a lively discussion at Monday’s Quitman Development Corporation (QDC). 

The special meeting was called after the city council failed to act on three items in last week’s meeting.  The council did not accept the QDC budget and tabled the appointment of board members and recommendations for operating policies.

The QDC board made a change in the budget to move $9,000 from the business retention and expansion program line item to downtown renovation. Business retention and expansion went from $14,850 to $5,000. Renovation rose to over $30,000.

The proposed 2020 budget is $258,205 while last year’s was $230,205. Executive Director Denea Hudman said unexpected costs which made them come in over budget were advertising for Honey Hole, the Bass Masters event and asphalt for the parking lot north of the square.

Board President Randy Bennett gave an opening statement. “We have been through four or five full-time and part-time executive directors. For the last 10 to 15 years the needle on the downtown did not move. We did not see any major improvement or change. We had dilapidated buildings that were becoming in more disrepair. So far, with the last five years of the board, I have seen a reinvigoration. Quitman business is on the move,” Bennett said. “Tax revenue has gone from $13,000 a month when I was on the council to somewhere around $22,000 a month now. Business opportunities are up and empty buildings are down.”

Bennett said, “I was hurt by the actions of the city council last week to table our budget and board recommendations. I racked my brain why such action was taken. The QDC board has consistently been financially responsible, transparent and diligently forward-looking for the city of Quitman.” 

Board member Martha Scroggins said, “What was insulting to me by the city council was them saying we are not going to approve the budget and we are not going to approve those directors either. I value my reputation, I value my character and I don’t like to sit there with an implication that I’m not a good, responsible person. Denea was not ever asked about the overage. Maybe she could have said we had the parking lot. We had Bass Masters come in that we had to give $10,000. We all voted on it and that wasn’t in our budget. She was not even given the opportunity to explain her budget.”

A special city council meeting was set for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. (after Monitor press time) to continue the budget process and the other matters. “I was shocked, but the motion was made and seconded to disapprove the budget and the council made that decision. We (the city) are not the bad guys here. We would never have this opportunity to have this kind of meeting if we hadn’t have taken that action,” Mayor Randy Dunn said.

Dunn, who is on the QDC board, spoke on communication. “With policies, I would like for us to have clear communication in anything that comes up and the QDC board is completely involved, completely brought in and gets to respond. That’s not saying someone is trying to control it all. It’s just that we have not been brought in. It’s healthy for the board to be involved,” Dunn said. 

Board members Dunn, Scroggins, Glenn Hanner and Kevan Burroughs have been nominated for another term.

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