2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Council president may sign confidentiality agreement to get City for Champions documents

Published: February 4, 2014, 10:34 pm, by Monica Mendoza

Council president Keith King said he will consider signing a confidentiality agreement with the city just to get his hands on the pro formas of the City for Champions projects.

King said he was offered the chance to see the confidential documents Tuesday morning after some of the City Council members learned Monday that the documents exist.

  Read Tuesday’s Gazette article

 A spokesman for the city said Bob Cope, a principal analyst with the city’s Economic Vitality Division, made the confidential documents available to the City Council as of Jan. 24 on the condition that council members sign a non-disclosure agreement. The financial and operational documents of the City for Champions four tourism projects contain proprietary information that could be damaging to the developers and businesses involved if their competition were tipped off, Cope told the council Monday.

Some council members said they had never heard about the pro formas and were never offered a chance to view them. Council member Andy Pico said he was surprised Monday to learn about confidential financial and operational plans for each of the City for Champions projects.

“I’ve never seen anything on the pro forma,” he said. “No one approached me about that level of detail and never mentioned a non-disclosure agreement.”

Council member Helen Collins said she too learned about the secret documents Monday. But she won’t sign a non-disclosure agreement to view them, she said. The city, she said, “is hiding so much already.”

Council member Don Knight said he had never been offered a chance to view the confidential pro forma documents in exchange for his signature on non-disclosure agreement. 

But council member Merv Bennett said Cope offered the Council the chance to view the private documents at the Jan. 27 meeting. Councilors were told they would have to sign the non-disclosure agreement to get the documents, he said. 

Bennett said he has no need to look at the documents; therefore he did not sign a confidentiality agreement. Council member Val Snider also recalls the offer of viewing financial documents in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. But he agrees with Bennett.

“I don’t want to look at the numbers until they are firm,” he said. “The numbers are going through lots of changes.”

Council members Jan Martin, Jill Gaebler and Joel Miller could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Estimated construction costs of each of the four projects have been discussed publicly from the moment the City for Champions plan was unveiled last summer. However, some City Council members want to know more about the operational costs and who would be financially responsible should the projects fail.

But those operational plans have been kept under wraps, even from the City Council, which is the body that would approve a Tax Increment Financing district – a designated area where a certain percent of collected sales tax is used to pay debt to finance the projects.

King said he wants to examine the pro forma plans of the four City for Champions projects. He said he’s not sure if there really is propriety information in the documents. But no matter what he finds, he won’t be able to tell anyone.

“I want to examine it and see if there is anything unusual about it – if there really is something in there that could hurt someone,” he said.