Monday, August 25, 2008

"They've got a great deal": LCCCA Finance Committee Chair says Authority obligated to share state grants 50/50 with PSP

Talk about demons from your past. Lancaster County Convention Center Authority Finance Committee Chair Laura Douglas confirmed at her committee meeting, Monday, that there is indeed a past contract between the Authority and Penn Square Partners according to which all state grants must be shared 50/50 between the two entities.

"Do you think that that's a fair deal for the public and the taxpayers whom you represent and whose money you are charged with using responsibly?" the NewsLanc reporter asked.

"That's a tough question. You're asking the wrong person on that one," Douglas replied through laughter.

"Would you consider going back and revisiting those contracts?" the reporter continued.

"The problem is, once a contract is signed, unless you have some leverage, you can't go back and renegotiate," she responded. "You have to have something to negotiate. And, unfortunately, we don't have any leverage towards negotiation."

Finance Committee member R.B. Campbell agreed with Douglas' assessment.

"Why would Penn Square Partners agree to change itself?" he asked. But he went on to suggest that the controversial provision might be revisited as part of any future negotiations.

"It was a different board that approved those governing documents," Douglas explained. "Unfortunately, we are saddled with the results of negotiations which took place a number of years ago."

"They've got a good deal," she noted wryly.

But the Chairwoman said it is unclear whether the $3.2 million in contingency funds the Authority is counting on from the State must necessarily be shared 50/50 with Penn Square Partners. She noted that Chairman of the Board Art Morris and Executive Director Kevin Molloy, who represent the Authority in talks with Penn Square Partners and with State Senator Gib Armstrong, are working on funding solutions.