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Letter to the editor: City should be conducting business deal in public

The Developer Fee Agreement with R. H. Johnson Company signed by Mayor Katie Andersen reads:

Recitals A. City will purchase a certain tract of real property containing approximately 65+/- acres of vacant land in the City of Jamestown. ... (“City Tract”)

Recitals B. City desires to enhance economic development in the City of Jamestown and desires to develop on the City Tract a retail/office/commercial mixed-use development that would include a “Big Box” retailer and ancillary “Pad Site” retail/commercial uses and related parking areas, driveways, landscaping, sidewalks and other improvements, ...

Why is the city of Jamestown, under the cover of secrecy, purchasing and developing land? I requested a copy of this agreement from the city administrator. The first copy of the agreement I received had the last part of a sentence in the Terms of Agreement section redacted (blacked out to obscure from the public). I now find that this redacted language of the agreement reads — “, including but not limited to approval of a tax increment financing district and allocation of sales tax monies, is not obtained by the City.” This language completes the sentence —“The City may terminate the Agreement if the essential financing package to acquire the real property and proceed with the development .”

It is the “not limited to” that begs’ the question — “If there is no tax increment financing district nor if there is not sales tax monies granted (assumedly from the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.), does not the “not limited to” then come into play? It gives the mayor and the City Council the authority to get the funds from any other funding source(s).

From where does the city plan on taking the monies for this development? From the current half-cent sales tax fund the city has available now that does not require any other approval to spend? From bonds? Other tax funds? Where? What funds were used to pay the developer the initial $100,000 thus far? The Developer’s Fee Agreement is for a total $900,000 if completed. And this is just for the developer’s fee.

There are those who want a “big box” store to set up a business in Jamestown. Come. Compete with the rest of the businesses here. Walmart came with no public assistance. This plan that the mayor, the City Council and the city government have attached themselves to is for more than just a place for a “big box” store.

Where are the public meetings and discussion on this? This secrecy in doing public business is reprehensible.