Parker Town Council voted to override the mayor’s decision to veto funding that helps pay rent for growing businesses.
Needing a two-thirds majority to reverse mayor David Casiano’s April 16 veto, council members passed the override 4-1 during the May 7 meeting. Casiano previously said he believed more time was needed to study the potential benefits and downsides of the Parker Authority for Reinvestment’s Business in Transition Program, which received a $300,000 loan from the town after the vote.
However, the mayor applauded council’s approval of the funding, saying “we will speak in one voice in support of this” from now on. Council member Lisa Coe – the only one to oppose the ordinance – and Casiano took exception to council member Mike Waid’s assertion that the issue had been politicized. Casiano argued that there is no political gain in temporarily delaying $300,000 in funding to perform appropriate due diligence on a pilot program.
Waid, a local business owner and one of the architects of the Business in Transition Program, said the small-business funding project has been in the works for nearly one year and much thought has been put into how it might impact the community.
Town Council, which doubles as the PAR’s board of directors, hopes the program will provide an incentive to fill vacant storefronts and commercial spaces within the urban renewal district.
Coe says taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize rent for up-and-coming companies. While some pointed at the town’s budget surplus over the last few years as a reason to pursue a worthwhile program, Coe said it was due largely in part to council’s conscious effort to reduce spending.
“We should look at the things we’ve put off,” she said, referring to the use of the $300,000.
Council member Josh Martin spoke about the responses to surveys during the Town of Parker’s 2035 Master Plan update process, and said many Parker residents consistently mentioned two things: increasing open space and filling commercial vacancies.
“Small business is the driver of our economy,” he said.