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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

Responses to critics, public occupy LCIC


The Lucas County Improvement Corp. staff is spending about 60 percent of its time on administrative tasks rather than working with businesses to attract and retain jobs, according to its interim director.

"We're doing a lot of things that aren't relevant to what our mission statement is," Matt Sapara said of the organization charged with economic development in the county.

In a recent presentation to the LCIC's executive board, Mr. Sapara said 60 percent of the organization's time was spent on such "administrative duties" as answering questions from the public and responding to critics.

He said he ideally wants to see his staff spend only 10 percent of its time on administration, 45 percent on business development, and 45 percent on luring and expanding jobs locally.

Among those administrative duties, Mr. Sapara is compiling information for the tax incentive review panel with the county commissioners.

"We spent hour after hour after hour working through the process of the tax increment review council," Mr. Sapara said.

The review council considers tax abatements and other incentives and makes recommendations about whether they should be continued or terminated. Previously handled by Lucas County's economic development department, the responsibility recently was transferred to the LCIC.

Commissioner Pete Gerken, a member of the LCIC's executive board and one of its chief backers, said at the April 8 board meeting the acrimonious debate over the LCIC's merits has been keeping it from taking off.

"The debate needs to end this month," Mr. Gerken said.

County commissioners are to consider a $200,000 appropriation to the LCIC during their meeting tomorrow. Mr. Gerken, who added the item to the commissioners' agenda, said the allocation would keep the LCIC solvent until the end of the year. "Part of the problem is, the organization has been under attack for a year," he said.

Commissioner Ben Konop said he didn't think his critiques of the LCIC are stopping its work. "Frankly, all I'm saying is that I want to see some progress in terms of job creation," he said. "The best way they could respond to that criticism is to help grow our economy and help create jobs here."

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