Live Oak —
The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners met this morning in a special-called meeting to try to come to a consensus on the proposed contract with Klausner Lumber One, LLC, the company that may construct a state-of-the-art sawmill in western Suwannee County at US 90 West and I-10.
Two commissioners were in favor of moving forward with the contract, two were not in favor and one decided not to publicly share his thoughts at this time.
A representative from Klausner informed the county on Tuesday night that they come to a consensus by Friday regarding whether to move forward with the most current, proposed contract.
The board discussed the pros and cons of the contract and public comments were heard.
“There is always risk. You can overcome this risk. This is one of the few last opportunities we have and we need to take advantage of it,”
Live Oak City Council Attorney Erny Sellers told the board. “Take a gamble on the future, take a gamble on the children of Suwannee County.”
Wendell Snowden of Wellborn pointed out areas of concern he had with the proposed contract regarding the “very weak” reverter clause. According to the contract, the reverter clause currently gives Klausner 18 months from the date the title is conveyed to the company from the county to begin construction. The contract defines commencement as when the concrete slab for the log yard processing building on site is laid, at which point the county’s right of reverter is terminated. Snowden also expressed his concern for section three where it lays out the general terms for permits and additional inducements and incentives for expansion, and section 6.2 citing county road improvements.
“Seems like everything in this contract is going to be paid by someone; the county, the state,” Snowden said. “We can’t look back in hindsight. I am all for it, if it is done right.”
Board Chair Wesley Wainwright and board member Clyde Fleming were in support to move forward with the proposed contract. Board members Phil Oxendine and Ivie Fowler were not in favor of moving forward with the current language in it and board member Jesse Caruthers had “no opinion” and stated that he would wait until the public hearing regarding the proposed contract on Sept. 18, to make his decision.
Harris expressed his concern with the current language of the proposed contract stating that there was no specific agreement for Klausner regarding job creation or how many people they are “committed” to employing, just “inferences”.
Special counsel to the board Bill Graham stated that the contract lacks two supplemental packets, that were not attached to the proposed contract or provided to the BOCC, that state a commitment from the company.
Oxendine suggested that the language within those two supplemental packets, which are agreements with the state, should be added into the county’s proposed contract, at which point he would support it.
The board instructed Graham to relay a message to Klausner to add the “language in the contract for the agreements they have with the state regarding job creation”, BOCC Attorney Hal Airth said.
On Thursday night, the Live Oak City Council met in an emergency meeting and signed a resolution in support of the county’s project.
Council President Adam Prins said that the council also unanimously passed a motion “to be the conduit for a loan through the Rural Revolving Loan Fund from the state to get the money for CSX” so a rail spur could be constructed at the project site.
The next public hearing to discuss the proposed contract is scheduled for Sept. 18 at City Hall.