The board of selectmen last week butted heads with the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation over the amount of revenue the EDIC will get from the next phase of the solar installation at the former landfill. An agreement reached between the town and the EDIC several years ago gave the EDIC all the revenue generated from the array for the first three years, after which the split would go to 50-50. Michael DiGiano, the director of the EDIC, asked selectmen at last Monday’s meeting if the board would consider waiving the change and allowing the EDIC to keep all the revenue. Selectmen did not vote on the question, but it was clear they were not happy with the idea.
From the EDIC’s perspective, it is a reasonable request. The corporation is working to create economic opportunities and jobs. It renovated the bus station and put a new business in the tidy new space; it funded a feasibility study of a community fiber-optic network; it funded another study of the feasibility of creating a co-working space. It was the driver of both phases of installation of solar power at the former landfill.
In short, the EDIC needs money to invest in economic development and bring well-paying jobs to the Cape.
The selectmen, on the other hand, see things differently. The solar array is bringing in money that is rightfully the town’s, and money the EDIC makes or spends should have town oversight.
The issue is a little more complicated than that. Selectwoman Moran, for example, is also a member of the EDIC and stands behind that entity. But at the heart of the matter is a question of who is in charge.
Selectman Jones got to that when he referred to the EDIC as a “quasi-public organization.” The EDIC was originally created as a nonprofit corporation to oversee the development of the town’s two technology parks. At some point, 10 years ago or so, the board of selectmen made the EDIC the town’s economic development commission. That made it a quasi-public entity.
That was a mistake that is now coming to the surface.
The EDIC, as it now operates, does indeed need to be funded. Whether it gets its money from revenue generated by a solar array or is funded from the town budget is immaterial.
The selectmen should recognize that or they should cut the EDIC free from its obligations to the town and create a new economic development commission, which the board would then have under its control.
Either way, it is the selectmen’s issue to deal with. And they should decide sooner rather than later.