County Commissioner Fights To End Forgivable Loans

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Sedgwick County Commissioner opposes forgivable loans to local businesses, citing the measure violates the Ten Commandments.

Commissioners heard a report on the status of economic development incentives in the county during a staff meeting Tuesday.

The county has approved $7.8 million in forgivable loans since 2005. The rules state the company must meet certain goals over a span of five years, including adding a certain number of jobs. If those goals aren't met, the company must pay back the loan to the county. There are several cases where the businesses have not met their goals and paid back the money, but in most cases, the companies' loans are forgiven because they met the goals.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau is against loaning private businesses money. He quoted the Ten Commandments, saying 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's money.' Ranzau said it is not the government's position to create jobs.

County manager Bill Buchanan said in many cases, without incentives, many companies will take those jobs out of Sedgwick County.

The commission is scheduled to vote on a forgivable loan to Johnson Controls tomorrow.

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