By Kirk Kern
The Mesquite City Council on Tuesday night voted 3-2 against an extension of the contract of Citywide Consulting to provide economic development services for the city. Voting against the contract were George Gault, Sandra Ramaker and Karen Dutkowski.
The contract would have been a month-to-month contract for three months at $20,000 a month. The company’s current contract ends at the end of September and if it isn’t renewed, the city will have no contracted economic development efforts in place. There is still one more council meeting scheduled for Sept. 28 in which some kind of decision could be made.
By voting not to extend the contract, two council members feel a prospective deal called “Project Washboard” could be at risk, as will some other potential projects that Citywide Consulting had been working on.
“I feel it’s a slap in the face to Project Washboard that we’re not extending this contract,” said councilman Wes Boger. “They’ve told me on multiple occasions that if it wasn’t for Cody and Colton that they would not have chosen Mesquite. It would have just been a stop on their tour.”
Project Washboard is a code name for a major manufacturing facility that is close to a decision on building in Mesquite. Colton Teerlink of Citywide Consulting had said at the Aug. 24 council meeting that this project would bring $8.6 million in property tax revenues to the city during the next 10 years.
Councilman Brian Wursten was the first to comment on this contract extension. He felt Citywide Consulting principal Cody Law has done a good job since his company was contracted in January.
“We decided to bring him in to do economic development,” Wurston said. “He moved his family here and decided to move here. I’m surprised to where we as a council have decided to go with this. I’m incredibly disappointed.
“I’ve been with him as we’ve met with people. For us not to approve this is terribly disappointing. We’ve got so many things that are out there. So many things that he’s working on that he is internally tied to.”
Gault said Law has done a good job with Washboard, but didn’t agree he was tied to company’s final decision to potentially choose Mesquite. He said if Law, who wasn’t at the meeting, could provide specific details on what still needed to be done and that his company was the only one that could accomplish those tasks, he would be willing to extend the contract for one month at the current price.
“If there are essential tasks remaining that only Cody can do, before I would go crazy voting on three months, I would go a month at a time,” Gault said. “Provided that we see a list of those tasks in writing. I want to know what h’s proposing and what he can accomplish.”
Dutkowski agreed with Gault. She was also concerned that the contract extension was for $20,000 a month rather than the $15,000 for the previous timeframe.
“We need specific information on what is yet to be done,” she said. “I don’t feel comfortable extending the contract. I don’t understand why he’s tied to Washboard.
We’re down to the last inning here.”
Boger commented that by voting down the contract, there would be no economic development interest at a critical time in the Project Washboard decision, which he said is by no means final.
“This is a month to month proposal,” he said. “If we don’t approve it, their contract ends this month so we would not have any economic development. It’s a bad precedent and a bad signal to send to Project Washboard.”
Gault said the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance can step in to finalize the deal. He said they are already taking the company to the governor’s office to talk about state incentives. Gault had also previously advocated the LVGEA take over the contracted economic development services for the city.
“The LVGEA, they represent other people,” Wurston said. “Why would we be a priority? I feel like we’re taking something that is really tied to the community and wanting to make it good and just bringing something in that is part-time and if it doesn’t go well here, we’ll take it up to Mesquite. I’m not sold on LVGEA in any sense.”
There was no proposal on the table on Tuesday for the LVGEA to take over economic services for the city.
“That’s going to be another fight,” Wursten said.