El Campo City Council approved the impending sale of $3.125 million in bonds and the creation of a Public Improvement District, financing measures for the pending rail-supported warehouse development.
Although he said he hoped the Southwest International Gateway business park would bring the jobs and tax dollars developers project, Councilman John Hancock voted against each measure.
“Has anybody seen any financial information showing his ability to follow through?” he asked.
“I have not,” City Manger Courtney Sladek said as council members remained silent.
“Anyone in the audience?” Hancock then asked the chamber’s gallery filled with staffers, members of the general public and the city’s bond council, only to again be met with silence.
The Gateway PID allows developers to draw a levy from park tenants to help pay for infrastructure, financing that has been delayed once more. The window for PID bond issuance now runs through August although Sladek said that much of a delay wasn’t expected.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see this project succeed,” Hancock said, but remained the lone dissenter with the five others present voting.
The $3.125 million bond should be sold in March, officials said, but will only be spent if work begins in the park.
The bond supplies $3 million in infrastructure funding pledged by the City Development Corporation of El Campo, and will be repaid by that organization.
Before any funds are spent, including those needed to sell the bond, Hancock urged council “to see some concrete being poured.”
Mayor Pro Tem Philip Miller agreed, “The performance has to be there before the bonds. This is a reimbursement,” he said.
The bonds are set to sell March 9 along with anticipated park PID bonds.
The rail park at the intersection of CR 421 and U.S. 59 is tentatively in Phase 1 of what is ultimately envisioned as a 540-acre development. No construction has started on the project, although developers now say they have their first tenant. That business, however, has not been named.
Developers are Stonemont Financial Group, Ridgeline Property Group, Kansas City Southern and NAI Partners.