VALPARAISO | The city tentatively plans to announce next week that it has landed a business that plans to invest more than $200 million in getting started.
The council voted 5-1 Monday on a resolution to allow the company to use the proceeds of a proposed revenue bond for $200 million to reimburse the company for any expenses it incurs for the three months leading up to the actual sale of the bonds. Otherwise the bond could only be used for expenses after the sale of the bonds.
Stuart Summers, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Commission, told the council he, Mayor Jon Costas and others have been working with the prospect for about a year. The company would locate on land that is partially within the city and partially outside it.
If the deal goes through, the company would seek annexation of the area outside the city, Summers said. Due to a confidentiality agreement, the name of the company and all the particulars will be announced at 1 p.m. Sept. 17 at City Hall if they are successful.
The ordinance to issue tax-free bonds will be introduced at the Sept. 23 council meeting and could be voted on that night. Otherwise, the council is expected to hold a special meeting a week later to have a final vote to meet deadlines for a buyer willing to purchase the bonds.
"We've spent lots of energy showing them the benefits of doing business in Valparaiso," Costas said. "This is something of great magnitude that will have benefits for the city for years to come."
Councilman Joey Larr was the only one to vote against the resolution (Councilman Bob Taylor was absent), saying he is not opposed to the company, but he is opposed to the process of not revealing the prospect's name before voting on anything.
"I understand the confidentiality, but I don't know if the City Council is under the same covenant of confidentiality," Larr said. "It bothers me to hold a public hearing and take public action when we can't reveal all the information to the public.
"For us to pass this resolution, to me, sounds like we are being, I don't want to say deceitful, but overly cautious in our actions. Why not wait for this until after the announcement?" Larr said.
Costas said, "It's important this moves in a timely fashion. All will be made public before you vote on the bond issue."
Councilwoman Deb Butterfield said. "In the economic development process, the last days are the most critical in getting all the pieces buttoned up, and it doesn't all come together at once. I feel, as a council, we are bounded by confidentiality. It would be foolish to walk away from a $200 million investment in the community on a technicality."
The city would be the conduit through which the bonds are issued but would not be responsible for paying them.