Dear Editor: The agenda published in The Madison County Journal for the Tuesday, May 26 IDA meeting listed a modification of the IDA’s GEFA loan. I had some important information for the IDA members, part of which concerned the principal balance of the GEFA loan.
The public could attend using Zoom so I joined the meeting. I wanted to let the IDA members know, in case they did not know, that their Executive Director Frank Ginn was violating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they had with GRP. The MOU is the legal contract between the IDA and GRP. Specifically, I wanted to inform the board that through the actions of Mr. Ginn they too were in violation of section 4.5(b) of the MOU. This section explains the payment of an escrow fund by GRP to the IDA in the amount of $100,000,000 dollars. It also explains in detail how this money can be used. In the MOU there are a couple of specific conditions and deadline dates, June 1st. and Oct. 31st of 2019 that must be met by GRP. If GRP failed to meet those conditions by the deadline dates the original MOU states that the $1 million dollars is to be disbursed to the IDA and used to pay down the principal on the GEFA loan. The wording on this could not be clearer.
GRP did not meet those deadlines but the Executive Director Frank Ginn chose not follow the contract. He has been sitting on the $1 million dollars for almost eight months. He made this decision on his own and as far as I can tell without IDA approval. Then at the May 26, 2020 IDA two weeks ago and without any mention of it in the publicized agenda for the meeting Mr. Ginn proposed to the authority an amendment to the original MOU.
Ginn had been negotiating with his friends at GRP and together they had come up with a new agreement. Basically, here’s what the new improved amended MOU will do. The IDA will get the $1 million escrow fund and use part of it to payoff the construction cost owed to the IDA by GRP, $301,170.95. The balance, $698,824.05 plus interest earned can be used by the IDA for water system improvements, one of which is making sure GRP has enough water. The motion to amend the MOU passed with only one authority member voting no. The deal negotiated by Ginn means that instead of entire $1 million dollar escrow fund going to pay down the principal balance on the GEFA loan that would help the IDA reduce its own debt, GRP gets a Christmas gift in May — $301,170.95 is quite a gift.
The IDA also gets to use the money for other things instead of reducing their own debt, which should happen. What a deal Mr. Ginn! This deal is a win for GRP and a win for the IDA. Unfortunately it is a loss for the citizens of Madison County. Ginn and the IDA had no right to not follow the original MOU and use the escrow money to pay down the GEFA loan. This should have happened on Nov. 1, 2019. That’s what the un-amended MOU says! I have two questions for Mr. Ginn: Why did this not happen? Why are you paying the bills of a private company with IDA and the citizens of Madison County’s money? Amending the original MOU to facilitate your friendly relationship with GRP does not make a wrong right. Maybe it’s time the citizens of Madison County got a better dealmaker.
Madison County Clean Power Coalition Co-Chair