Frustrated over last night’s aborted voting session that left the $660 million Port Covington financing bill in limbo, the group that reached a community benefits agreement with the project’s developer is calling on City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young to pull the bill from committee.
BUILD is holding a press event on Monday to call on Young to support a parliamentary move that allows the measure to be pushed out of committee and placed before the full 15-member City Council for a vote.
“We’re frustrated and ready for the thing to be over,” said Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, clergy co-chair for BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development).
“In our view, what Sagamore has agreed to after a lot of hard bargaining is huge and significant. Enough already.”
Such a move is not in the public’s interest, said a leader of one of the two coalition groups who negotiated with the Sagamore Development Company, Under Armour Kevin Plank’s real estate arm.
“We are baffled as to why there should be this artificial deadline,” said Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families and a co-chair of People Organized for Responsible Transformation, Tax Subsidies and TIFs (PORT3).
Spokesman Lester Davis said Young had no comment.
Foster Connors said his group shares Stokes’ concern about education funding but believes the current language is enough to protect it.
“The agreement says Sagamore will neither seek nor accept a TIF if it will have an adverse effect on state school funding,” Foster Connors said.
Carter said with millions at stake for city school students with urgent needs, the wording of those provisions should be made as strong as possible.
“I think it’s premature for the Council to vote on a bill without even addressing whether this ‘hold harmless’ language is needed,” she said.
In recessing the voting at a tumultuous session last night, Stokes also said he thinks citizens need more time to read the city-wide benefits agreement reached with BUILD after two other groups rejected the deal.
At the start of the meeting, where the unprecedented financing measure was on the agenda, two reporters asked to see the benefits agreement reached in connection with it.
Comptroller Joan Pratt told them the finalized version won’t be made public until the Board of Estimates places it on its agenda on Monday ahead of a Wednesday vote.
Documents Under Wraps
Also so far undisclosed is the profit-sharing agreement the Baltimore Development Corporation has negotiated with Sagamore – another concern Stokes cited in delaying the vote.
Foster Connors said he believes the documents would stand up to scrutiny and wishes the city would release them.
Carter said that given that the city hasn’t, Stokes is right to hold off.
“I’ve talked to several Council members who said they haven’t had time to review the whole document,” she said.
“Would you sign a 40-year mortgage without having read through the conditions?”