Saturday, November 22, 2008

Roanoke City says Citizen’s Don’t Need to Know

The Roanoke City Legislative Package includes a request to permit governing bodies to discuss in closed meetings the granting of economic development incentives for projects which already have been announced publicly. This is contrary to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Megan Rhyne, Director for the Virginia Coalition for Open Government (VCOG), said that, “The city already has leeway to discuss incentives before the announcement by virtue of 2.2-3711(A)(5). By granting an exemption for post-decision talks about incentives, the public would be completely closed out of the process. The public has an interest in knowing whether the cost of the incentives are worth the benefits of having the business locate there. Incentives will ultimately impact the individual and business taxpayers in the area. If a business who has already agreed to come (prompting the announcement), and now it’s somehow getting cold feet because the city isn’t subsequently ponying up enough incentives, well the citizens might want to know that so they can weigh in on whether it is a good idea for the business to come to town or not after all.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

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