Constitution Square lease agreement bad deal for county

Published 5:45 am Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Advocate-Messenger’s Jan. 17 editorial titled; “Many questions should be answered before Boyle alters Constitution Square arrangement,” opines the rental agreement between Fiscal Court and the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership (EDP).

This deal seems as hard to justify as putting a square peg through a round hole. So, to cut through the confusion, here’s the “real deal” regarding the “square deal.” 

Constitution Square is a former state park owned by the county and utilized by the EDP.

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It has 12,000 square feet of potential rental income where an average of $15 per square foot would be a potential income of $189,000 dollars. Yet, the EDP pays nothing in rent except for utilities.

However, it gets worse. The following are entities that pay zero rent to the county.

  • Chamber of Commerce and Heart of Danville (membership driven entities).
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau, a taxing entity receiving income from the legal confiscation of local hotels coffers.
  • Privately held Boyle County Industrial Foundation.

And what has this allowed the Convention and Visitors Bureau to do? Pay inflated incomes of 58% of their budget!

In addition, the assistant to the EDP president has a building all to himself! Managerial incompetence?

When so much is out of balance some people can start getting a sense of entitlement.

For example, the tourism director and EDP president can decide to name a building they don’t own after an individual without going through proper protocol of a county vote.

The county already pays up to $100,000 to fund the EDP and the city about the same. This means the county is losing out on a potential $189,000 that could serve all the county instead of an entitled few. The county’s real investment into the EDP including “In Kind” freebies is $289,000!

We should expect the best from people we hire or manage, and give them enough freedom to gain confidence in making decisions while criticizing performance but not the performer, until proven otherwise. This is, in part, the art of effective leadership that few ever learn. However, this freedom to act needs to be balanced with an understanding of human nature, that some people do what you inspect and not what you expect.

This lesson has never been more poignant then what we are witnessing now regarding squatters’ rights from our third form of unelected government (EDP) residing rent free at the campus of Constitution square.

Randy Gip Graham