by Sam Hieb
High Point Mayor Bill Bencini has gone on the offensive in the discussion/debate over the city’s proposed downtown baseball stadium, blasting questions about a referendum to fund the stadium as a straw man argument and threatening to pull out of Guilford County’s economic development alliance:
Bencini read a six-and-a-half page statement into the record during a meeting of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance that sought to refute several objections county commissioners have made about the project.
“High Point is in the process of undertaking the largest economic development project in decades — maybe ever,” Bencini said. “If our partners in Guilford County government choose not to participate with the city of High Point in this catalyst project — a project in which Guilford County makes no upfront commitment, a project with no county financial risk — we will be forced to ask uncomfortable questions: ‘Why are we here? Why are we involved in the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance?’”
…“The referendum straw man is a convenient argument by those opposing the use of public funds for just about anything,” Bencini said.
The city wants to use tax increment financing–the most expensive way for governments to borrow money, according to JLF analysis—while some county commissioners question why the issue is not put to a bond referendum. As of now, the stadium issue is not on the agenda for the commissioners Sept. 7 meeting.