It’s no surprise to announce that the Forney City Council voted 6-1 to pay the Leon Capital Group upwards of $600,000, slightly less than the chicken hut developer originally requested as reimbursement for being inconvenienced.
According to Council Member Shaun Myers this developer was “inconvenienced” when he was required to obtain additional TxDOT approval in order to build a left turn-in lane at the intersection of US Highway 80 and FM 548.
The official agenda describes Action Item #9 as “Discuss and consider a Resolution approving a Chapter 380 Agreement between the City of Forney and LCG Highway 80, LLC for development located at the southeast corner of the intersection of FM 548 and Highway 80.”
When the item was introduced City Attorney Jon Thatcher briefly reminded the council that they had authorized staff to negotiate a Chapter 380 Agreement with the Leon Capital Group at their June meeting; then requested that the council recess into Executive Session to discuss the particulars of the agreement.
After reconvening into Open Session over an hour later, Council Member Shaun Myers immediately stated “I make a motion to approve discussion item, action item number 9.”
Myers motion was almost instantly seconded by Council Member Kevin Moon, and then Council Member’s Cory McGee, Robbie Powers, Mary Penn and David Johnson followed suit by approving the motion to pay the Leon Capital Group over $600,000 for being “inconvenienced” while doing business with the Forney City Council.
Only Mayor Rick Wilson voted against paying the Leon Capital Group any taxpayer money.
As you will see, there was no public discussion about this agreement.
No resolution was read by the city secretary, and there certainly wasn’t any mention of the exact amount of money these Council Members are paying this developer.
It was initially confirmed that Leon Capital felt they were due $800,000, however now it seems that the Council has decided to pay a portion of the requested money and then approve the Forney Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors to pay the remaining portion.
Leon Capital Group bought this property from the Forney EDC. The developer then spent money obtaining the required development permits and procuring a tentative contract with the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers franchise.
This is standard business practice for developers. The taxpayers of Forney do not owe the Leon Capital Group any money, and they are not legally obligated to pay them for their “inconvenience”.
This isn’t like the city is considering payment of an invoice submitted by a contracted vendor.
This is a group of six elected officials (Myers, Moon, McGee, Penn, Powers and Johnson) who are legally using the laws that describe Chapter 380 (Economic Development) Agreements to pay off a developer the taxpayer’s do not owe.
The taxpayers of Forney are already facing a $44,249,226.98 debt on the Gateway Project that they don’t yet know how they will settle.
Severe infrastructure and road repair issues abound across town, and so far there are no large retail developments planned.
Plus, during this same meeting it was announced that the 2019 Operating Budget will increase both water and sewer rates substantially, and leave no money for the hiring of additional police and fire personnel.
So it’s hard to understand why these Council Member's act as if they have an endless supply of money, as well as an endless supply of support from the voters who elected them to represent their best interest.
The citizens of Forney have the legal right to know all the details surrounding the Chapter 380 Agreement between the City, the Forney EDC and the Leon Capital Group, therefore it should be noted that the Forney EDC Board of Directors will deliberate paying their portion of the payment to Leon Capital at their Thursday night August 9, 2018 meeting.
Photographs L-R: Leon Capital Consultant Darrell Grooms. City Attorney Jon Thatcher. And Leon Capital Consultant Darrell Grooms laughing just minutes before the council went into Executive Session.
Written by: Denise Bell