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Elizabeth Beeton

I agree wholeheartedly: When a city gives tax breaks, it should require a performance agreement to make sure the private partner follows through on its promises to generate new taxes or jobs. But who is going to hold that private partner accountable down the road if it fails to perform? Future city managers, city attorneys and city councils won't have the stomach to take on a corporate adversary and its legal team. The city of Galveston saw that recently with its Beachtown tax reinvestment zone. The developer failed to perform, yet the city acquiesced rather than hold him accountable.

The bottom line is that long-term performance agreements are unenforceable, not for legal reasons, but for political ones.

Bill Cochrane

Mrs Beeton. How about an "Iron Clad Performance Agreement". I'll bet you know an attorney that could get that done. That way, it would not depend on future city managers, city attorneys and councils.

Elizabeth Beeton

No matter how strong an agreement is, it still requires political will to enforce it. Galveston's Redevelopment Authority had a fairly strong development agreement with Tofigh Shirazi, the Beachtown developer, but he was successful in getting city council to replace members of the RDA who wanted to enforce the agreement with new members who agreed to weaken it. City council affirmed the weakened agreement earlier this month.

Bill Cochrane

Mrs Beeton. I do not agree. By Iron Clad I meant it cannot be modified or changed in any way, shape or form - forever, and it should be written so a normal human being with any common sense can understand that it can't be changed or modified. It's really strange that after years and years of attorneys having being paid to write contracts, these so-called legal contracts are still "open for interpretation". I call BS.

Jim Forsythe

If the parties involved do not want to enforce the agreement, it will not be enforced.
Unless you as a citizen want to take legal action or vote the city council out, it will not happen.
Mrs Beeton, gave one example of this happening now.

Chuck DiFalco

"all cities should begin regularly measuring the effectiveness of incentives and make those reports public" I agree completely.
League City has already implemented "380 agreements" to multiple companies. These seem like tax rebates to me. I'm not understanding what's different about what Mr. Livingston is proposing.

Bill Cochrane

To me, it is mind boggling that educated folks do not understand what an iron clad agreement is. It is written expressly forbidding any changes or modifications. It can even include specific examples, and make it clear that the items listed in the agreement are not changeable. Pretty simple really. Problem is, attorneys working for both sides allow loop holes to insure they have a future job.
But, if I’m wrong, then Galveston should return Moody Gardens to the Moody Foundation, put the land and business back on the tax rolls and start receiving property taxes and other benefits that other businesses are required to pay.

Elizabeth Beeton

All right, Mr. Cochrane, I concede that you are right. These agreements should be written in a way that leaves no room for interpretation, with language a third-grader could understand and lots of examples of what does and does not constitute a default and what happens in that event. City attorneys often consider the members of city council who constitute the majority bloc to be their client, rather than the city itself or the residents - as a result, they serve a political interest, not a public one, and provide political cover to council members rather than straight-up legal advice. I have heard some of them make ridiculous statements of law when giving away the farm.

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