NOTE: This is a letter sent from Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty to the TCLA in its entirety.
Dear Board members,
I am compelled to reply to your response dated November 19, 2019 regarding your organization.
I am aware that the board of TCLA are all volunteers. I know some of you on a personal basis, and have total confidence in your personal character. Please don’t regard this as a personal attack on any board member. All of you have businesses to run. I ran businesses for over 30 years here at the lake, so I know all about the long hours involved.
It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that our lake is falling behind other areas. We really do need to take bold steps to foster a growing and diversified economy. Certainly a soccer complex coming to the lake would be a welcome addition. However, there is a huge difference between a private venture, requesting government help, and a bloated boondoggle, public funded project, that only benefits a few.
The kickoff meeting I went to regarding this project presented a study that showed the economic growth that a project like this could bring to the lake. I was approached by several individuals at that meeting, if Camden County would do a TIFF for this project. I agreed that this was the exact type of project that tax increment financing was made for. What that said to me was, that this was going to be a private venture.
At the next meeting, the tone of the presentation was very direct. At this meeting the presentation was that we needed this project, or else we’ll go to Branson and build it. No location had been selected at that time, or who was going to develop the project. My statement at that meeting was made in the context of someone else building this, and the county giving them a TIFF, a TDD, and a CID.
Not long after that meeting, the commission was approached indirectly by management of the TCLA and CVB, regarding the county owning the property and bonding the construction. We said no. The county cannot use their bonding capacity for a project like this. If we need to make repairs to our buildings, we would not have the ability to do so.
About the same time, in an unrelated conversation with our bonding attorney in St. Louis, we were informed that individuals had contacted them a year and a half ago, regarding our bonding capacity. At that point, it was apparent that plans to have Camden County own, and bond, this project were being worked on for at least a year and a half.
Then the commission began to look into the people involved in bringing this to the lake. It became apparent that this same group experienced big problems at other locations where their projects had been embraced by the community.
The people of this lake, including your membership, are not stupid. However, your administration must think we are. Not long after the commission said no to bonding the project, it was placed on the ballot. The projected cost had ballooned to in excess of $20 million.
About that time, your membership began to contact the commission regarding your business practices. They requested the meeting with the commission. They outlined the problems to the commission. Your membership made the accusations to the commission about the operation of your organization. We promised your membership that we would look into it.
The next item I am going to respond to is your records of meetings, and your meetings. I cross checked the commission meetings with your meeting minutes. Some of the minutes of your meetings are wrong. Your minutes show me at meetings in 2016 in which I was conducting a commission meeting at the exact same time. Additionally, the date and time of all of your meetings are scheduled at the same time and date as commission meetings almost 100% of the time. I’ve cross checked this, and can prove it. I have to question your desire to have any oversite, based on your scheduling of meetings.
When did you have a meeting to approve the letter to me that I’m responding to now? What was the vote on that? Who wrote your response, and who decided to send it?
Your organization is funded by TAX DOLLARS. Apparently you are not getting it. The soccer complex fiasco brought to light issues relating to the way your organization is operating.
The oversight and management of the TCLA is now “THE ISSUE”.
It appears to me that the complaints expressed by your membership are valid. You need to clean this up. The commission should not have to be involved in this, but now we are. You should be taking extraordinary steps to correct both perceived, and actual problems.
My suggestion is that you have certified elections and a comprehensive performance audit.
A performance audit checks the accounts and insures that you are operating in compliance with the statutes you are operating under. Then, when the results of that audit are released, you need to implement all of the findings of that audit.
Camden County Presiding Commissioner