Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

The Granite Shoals City Council appointed one of its own as a liaison to an anonymous economic development group that will work with city administration to guide and advise on future growth. 

Place 5 Councilor Michael Berg was unanimously chosen as the liaison during the council’s regular meeting on March 28. The council also discussed the exact nature of the new group, which seems to fall into a municipal gray area.

City Manager Peggy Smith reported that she was in talks about potential projects and wanted the economic development group to function independently of the city. Its membership would remain anonymous to protect prospective projects in their early phases.

The group will likely begin meeting after the May elections and consist of landowners, real estate experts, business owners, Fire Chief Tim Campbell, Berg, and the city manager, according to Smith. 

“This would be a small group to meet and discuss where we may want to move forward with the development that is coming to Granite Shoals,” she said.

As liaison, Berg will represent and brief the council on plans and progress without violating non-disclosure agreements, which likely will be in play for most of the projects, Smith continued. 

Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis questioned the legality of forming an entity that intends to use city funds and isn’t governed by the Open Meetings Act. Smith clarified that any spending would be brought before the council and that the group wouldn’t function under the normal rules of an advisory committee.

“I’m going to tell you that the folks who are involved with this economic development (group) are not going to meet if we have to have posted meetings and minutes of the meetings and all of those hoops that we have to go through,” she said. “Many of the things that (the group) are going to want to discuss are confidential, and when they have a finished product or an agreement, they are going to bring it to the council and discuss it with you.”

City Attorney Joshua Katz weighed in on the subject.

“I don’t think I have a full understanding of what this entity is,” he said. “If this is a board or commission of the city, that would be an 8.01 of the charter issue, an advisory group, and those boards and commissions do need to be created by the City Council.”

He did verify that if the group had fewer than four members of the council on it, it would not be subject to the rules of the Open Meetings Act. As it stands, Berg is the only council member in the group.

Smith had originally proposed Place 2 Councilor Kevin Flack as the council liaison, but Place 4 Councilor Steve Hougen mentioned that Berg would be a good choice. Ortis moved to appoint Berg and was seconded by Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort, leading to unanimous approval.

Flack showed no hard feelings about the choice and explained that he had been the one to propose to Smith the idea of a council liaison and council input on the activities of the economic development group.