Covington City Councilman Chris Smith used his portion of council comments Monday night to address a letter Mayor Ronnie Johnston submitted to The Covington News Sunday telling the public about possible development coming to the city.
The Covington News obtained a copy of Smith’s letter. Here it is:
Mr. Mayor and fellow Council Members,
I was extremely disappointed last Sunday when I opened up the newspaper and saw the letter the Mayor had submitted about potential future retail and commercial developments that could come to Covington. Why am I disappointed? The City Council has been working on these deals for the past few months and because of the nature of this business it was done so in executive sessions. Which means anything discussed in these sessions are suppose to remain behind closed doors until the council can take the issues public by voting on them. The mayor betrayed the trust of me and this council by writing this letter and releasing information about these possible developments. These actions by the Mayor could have a negative on impact on these projects and future projects. However, I do understand why the mayor went public and released this information. It’s because there is not support on this council for these projects and the mayor thought if he released this information he could get public support for the project which then would push this council to support these projects. One thing that was not told to the citizens was what this project would cost the city? Well, I can’t give specific numbers because I respect and honor the importance of our executive sessions, but I can tell you this developer wants millions from the city.
This is not a good deal for the city of Covington. I heard from many citizens, former mayors, council members, commissioners and IDA members saying this is a raw deal for Covington. The city shouldn’t put this type of money into a private retail development. The mayor wants this city to commit millions of dollars to this project and the developer can not even produce one commitment letter form a potential tenant. Also, this is the last parcel of property in the city where a potential industrial site could go.
I will not sit here and support a project that would drain this city of our reserves and put us in a potential bad financial situation. Like everyone of you sitting here, I want what’s best for Covington. I want good quality development and additional retail options for the citizens. But this is a bad deal and I urge this council to continue to say no to this project.
And for you Mr. Mayor I would hope from this point forward you will show a little more respect to thi9s council and the processes that are in place. These processes are in place for a reason.
City of Covington