Business Development Board negotiations are ‘dead in the water … time to pull the plug.’

Local attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock updates the status of The Business Development Board of Martin County (BDB) negotiations with the Martin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC):

The Stuart News complains that contract negotiations between the County and the Business Development Board of Martin County are not moving fast enough.
Actually, they are not moving at all.
The BOCC  has had at least half-a-dozen discussions about the proposed contract and has spent far too much time trying to work out a more reasonable agreement.  Specific terms were proposed by the BOCC at its September 10, 2013, meeting.
The BDB Board has engaged in only a single discussion about potential terms of a new agreement, and that was back on August 15, 2013 (although a new contract was mentioned at BDB meetings in May and July, there was no discussion of proposed terms).
The BDB had no meeting in September and does not even have a meeting scheduled for October.

BDB Executive Director Tim Dougher (Source: Martin County Sheriff’s Office). An audit commissioned by the County Clerk found several provisions of the existing contract and the organization’s own by-laws that the BDB has not followed — including securing fidelity bonding for the executive director.

BDB Executive Director Tim Dougher made a presentation to the BOCC on October 1 to set out a “transition plan” but there has been no BDB Board discussion of the plan that Dougher presented.
It seems clear the BDB has no interest in moving forward with a new contract but is simply buying time with more than half-a-million taxpayer dollars that the BDB amassed in a slush fund to pay exorbitant operating expenses and a $3,000-a-month PR firm to rehabilitate its image.
An audit commissioned by the County Clerk found several provisions of the existing contract and the organization’s own by-laws that the BDB has not followed — including securing fidelity bonding for the executive director.
The existing contract requires the BDB to make an annual report to the BOCC by October 31 each year.  The auditors noted that this has not been done, with the BDB usually making its presentation sometime in November. This pattern continues, as there is no BDB annual report to the BOCC on Tuesday’s agenda, which is the last meeting in October.
The BOCC was scheduled for an “update” on BDB contract negotiations on Tuesday, but staff has now withdrawn that agenda item and re-scheduled it for November 5, 2013.
The fact is there is nothing to update because there has been no effort whatsoever on the part of the BDB to even address the BOCC’s proposals.
It’s time to pull the plug.  The BDB has no intention of negotiating a reasonable contract that will benefit all Martin County businesses and residents.  The BOCC has made a good faith effort to resolve this dispute but should now stop wasting time on the recalcitrant BDB.

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