To the editor:
It seems that the City Council may be nearing a vote on a proposed lease renewal agreement with L-3. I find this concerning for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, there has been no official communication about on this topic by the City Council. There have been no town hall meetings — or any other kind of meeting — at which citizens would be given relevant information. There has been very little information available about this negotiation other than rumors and hearsay. The taxpayers and voters of Greenville deserve much better than that, particularly when it concerns such an important component of the economic vitality of the community.
Secondly, because of the secrecy surrounding this process, I am concerned that this council will make the same mistake that past councils have made, which was to give away our most important economic asset for essentially nothing. L-3 isn’t going anywhere, even if they wanted to. When have you ever seen a company go to such great lengths to stay somewhere? In any negotiation, information is your most powerful ally. Here is the information I hope is being understood and utilized by our council members:
The city’s total property tax revenue is roughly $10,000,000 (ten million USD)
An airport appraiser who is widely respected as the best municipal airport appraiser valued the portion we lease at over $6,000,000 (six million USD) per year.
Past city councils have irresponsibly leased the airport for a fixed rate of less than $80,000 per year for the last few decades.
L-3 recently agreed to a lease of a smaller and less capable facility in Waco for almost $7,000,000 (seven million USD) per year.
Our city council should do what’s right for all of us by insisting on receiving market value for this valuable asset rather than allowing its value to be realized exclusively by one party.
Ben Collins, Vice Chair
Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission