Byers seeks restructuring of MCEDA executive board

Mohave County Supervisor Pete Byers said he wants to restructure the executive board of the Mohave County Economic Development Authority to make it more accountable.

Under his proposal, the executive board would consist of seven members: four appointed by the city councils of each of the four cities in the county, and three picked by each of the three supervisors.

Executive board members would serve staggered terms of two years to three years.

"The board would not be so entrenched," Byers said.

"It will make them more accountable.

They'll be accountable to the city councils and the Board of Supervisors."

MCEDA officials reacted coolly to Byers' proposal.

Currently, the entire MCEDA board, which consists of at least 17 members, elects the executive board, which has five members and an alternate, MCEDA officials said.

Board members are appointed to four-year terms and may be re-appointed.

"I haven't seen the details of his plans," MCEDA board President Henry Varga said.

"I don't know where he is coming from and what he is trying to accomplish."

Varga said Byers' proposal, if carried out, would transfer control of MCEDA from the three supervisors to the cities.

The supervisors currently control the purse strings of MCEDA by providing the nonprofit entity $189,200 a year, the bulk of MCEDA's budget.

"The majority of MCEDA's board members and most of the executive committee are from Kingman, and here you have the Kingman representative suggesting that it is not a good idea," Varga said.

The MCEDA board already is accountable, Varga said.

He said the executive board conducts MCEDA business in the event that other board members cannot attend, and meets "only when it wants to meet."

MCEDA treasurer Roy Dunton said referring to Byers, "I'm sorry that he feels that way, but that is his right."

Byers seems to enjoy the support of Supervisor Tom Sockwell of Bullhead City, but Supervisor Buster Johnson of Lake Havasu City – a vocal MCEDA supporter – expressed reservations.

"Offhand, it doesn't sound too bad," Sockwell said.

"I have indicated before that they need to make sure they get representation countywide on the MCEDA board."

Johnson said he is willing to consider the proposal, which he said would require changes in the MCEDA bylaws.

However, he said he is "adamantly opposed" to the city council appointing MCEDA members because the cities have their own economic development entities.

Byers' proposal might make MCEDA more acceptable to the public, Kingman Mayor Les Byram said.

MCEDA has come under fire in recent years from critics who questioned the secrecy of MCEDA's meetings and its support for controversial industries such as natural gas-fired power plants and private prisons.

"I think I have seen this in the paper before, that Pete (Byers) had suggested it," Byram said.

"People would have more confidence (in MCEDA)."

Byers and Sockwell criticized MCEDA when they ran for office in 2000, with Byers campaigning for MCEDA to open up its meetings to the public and press.

The MCEDA board voted on Jan.

11 to open up its meetings to the public.

Byers' campaign treasurer, Krystal Burge, serves on the MCEDA board.

However, several board members campaigned for Pat Bourque, who resigned from the MCEDA board to run for the District 1 seat in the Republican primary against Byers and Patti Lewis.

Bourque has rejoined the board.

Byers said that because of the county's financial situation he may seek to cut funding for MCEDA.

"I'm sure we're going to cut some," Byers said.