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Galveston Council Member questions conflict of interest with TIRZ

Tax Increment Reinvestment

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City Council Member Elizabeth Beeton publicly accused former Galveston city manager of having a business relationship with developers benefitting from a TIRZ, according to Guidry News:

The city council had lively discussion, resulting in a temporary halt to the meeting, during a presentation from former city manager Doug Matthews regarding Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 11.

Matthews had drafted the initial plan for the reinvestment zone, which is for the development of Palisade Palms, two twin-tower condominium apartment complexes, one of which is complete, on the East Beach. Matthews gave a presentation regarding the history of the TIRZ, which has a 30 year lifespan and includes reimbursement for $4 million in infrastructure improvements to accommodate the development.

Beeton questioned Matthews about his current employment, and his relation with the developer of the project, Falcon Group Development, stating that he had “a business relationship” with the developer as a consultant.

Matthews answered that he worked for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, but was at the meeting on personal time, and was not being paid to be present, but came at the request of Council Member Cornelia Harris-Banks.

“Mr. Matthews is here on behalf of the developer, and being paid by the developer,” Beeton said.

Matthews again said he was present at the request of a council member and was not being paid. Beeton said that the developer has requested reimbursement for a consulting arrangement with Matthews in 2010.

“One thing I dislike like about you, is that you turn around and make allegations that are not true,” Matthews said. “I did not bill him in 2010, I had not done any work for him in 2010.”

Beeton continued, and a point of order was called.

“That doesn’t mean I can’t continue,” Beeton said.

“Yes it does,” Mayor Lewis Rosen answered.

Discussion continued over objections, and Rosen gaveled the meeting into recess, with council members leaving the room and no longer holding a quorum.

The city council postponed appointments for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and discussion of TIRZ 11, 12, 13 and 14. The items were pulled at the request of Norman Pappous, as he could not attend the meeting. However, Rosen asked to notify the Galveston Island Redevelopment Authority that James Ware is being appointed as chair of the board.

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