By MARK MCGEE
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
This was the advice of Yogi Bera, Hall of Fame baseball catcher and the master of malapropisms.
It could also be a description of the dilemma faced by the Shelbyville City Council. At the regular October meeting the council voted to turn down the request for $100,000 by the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership by a 4-1 vote.
“It is disappointing that some city council members elected to remove the City from participating in the Partnership,” Partnership board chairman David Coffey said in a written statement. “We believe that a partnership consisting of the County, City and Private sectors is the best way forward to ensure positive growth benefiting all residents. In addition, it provides the most economical delivery system.”
Coffey stressed the Partnership will continue to operate despite the decision of the city council.
“The Partnership with Bedford County, Private sector businesses and other stakeholders will continue to build a better Bedford,” Coffey said. “This Partnership is committed to supporting local businesses and our current industries and recruiting higher-paying jobs for all citizens and working with developers to bring a variety of retail offerings.”
Where the council goes from here in terms of economic development will be the primary discussion Thursday at noon at a Special Called Workshop at the City Council Chambers at the Building, Codes and Planning Building. The one item for discussion on the agenda is economic development planning.
“The purpose of the workshop is for staff to receive a clear directive from the City Council on how they wish to pursue economic development,” City Manager Scott Collins said.
Collins added that after the discussions on Thursday a staff summary will be provided at the study session scheduled for Oct. 30 in preparation for a formal vote during the regular business meeting Nov. 8.
Council member Henry Feldhaus, long a supporter of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership made a motion for council members to defer their decision on the $100,000 payment, which would have been paid from the hotel/motel fund, until after the workshop. His motion failed for lack of a second.
Council member Bobby Turnbow made the motion not to fund the Partnership. It was seconded by council member Marilyn Ewing. Turnbow, Ewing, Gary Haile and William Christie voted to deny the payment. Feldhaus voted to fund the Partnership. Council member Stephanie Isaacs was not present at the meeting.
Christie made a motion for hiring of an economic development director who would work for the city council. Mayor Randy Carroll would interview the candidates. If the council votes to hire its own economic director, it will require a change in the City Charter. Such a change would have to be introduced by State Senator Shane Reeves and State Representative Pat Marsh for approval by the Tennessee General Assembly. The process could take several months.
Two proposals previously discussed by the council are for the positions of a Tourism and Marketing Director and/or a Deputy City Manager for Economic Development. Both would work under the direct supervision of the City Council.