The city has yet to collect $210,000 of the $1.1 million that 10 stakeholders initially pledged in 2007 to contribute toward the general plan update process. The businesses that owe money are Keystone Corp., West Ridge Business Park and Eagle Valley Investments. The latter two companies are owned or partly owned by Buehner.
On Tuesday, council members decided to allow a payment plan to be set up for West Ridge Business Park and Eagle Valley Investments and proceed with negotiations to collect the remaining funds promised by Keystone Corp. In the same decision, the council agreed to authorize a loan of $210,000 from the city’s general fund to front the remaining costs of the general plan update.
Interim City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said the loan from the city’s general fund would help keep the city from going over the $1.3 million the city originally budgeted for the revision if the process is drawn out any longer.
“This is as good of an argument as I’ve heard as to why we shouldn’t prolong this process any further,” Mayor Becky Campo said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I think that it’s important to realize if this process gets halted any further, it’s going to be a drain on someone — whether it be the stakeholders, the general fund or the community.
“We don’t want to incur any more debt than we have to.”
Representatives from West Ridge and Eagle Valley have told city staff they intend to pay the rest of their combined $35,000 contribution as promised, but they asked council members to consider a payment plan to ease the financial burden.
On a Form 700, on which candidates for public office are required by the Fair Political Practices Commission to disclose any economic interests, Buehner listed that he is the owner of 29 rental properties within city limits, in the downtown area and Heartland Ranch subdivision.
Outside present city limits, real estate records obtained by the Irrigator show that Buehner, through Eagle Valley Investments, is also the owner of about 38 acres of land along Baldwin Road near Zacharias Road — slated to be an area of major development under a revised general plan.
Buehner is not legally responsible for listing that property — or other land he owns outside of city limits — on his Form 700, said Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC.
“Under the current law, current and hopeful candidates are only required to list properties they have held for the past 12 months that are within the jurisdiction they are seeking,” Porter said.
As a stakeholder, Buehner has maintained that if he were elected with the general plan not yet adopted, he would recuse himself from any related votes.
“Should there be any decisions about the general plan that filter through to the next council, and if I’m on it, of course I wouldn’t vote on it if there was any question about a conflict of interest,” he said. “I want to stay 100 percent legal with what I do.”
Keystone officials have yet to respond officially to recent staff requests for them to change their minds about not giving the city the full $350,000 they initially committed to the revision. Earlier this week, however, executive vice president Keith Schneider explained the company’s position.
“I believe the answer is, today, the same as it was before,” Schneider said. “At this point, we don’t intend on paying the balance, because we believe we’ve paid more than our fair share already.”
Representatives from the company, which developed the Keystone Pacific Business Park in western Patterson, indicated in a November 2008 letter that the company would not contribute the remaining $175,000 it had pledged the previous year toward the general plan process.
Schneider said the company made the decision to send the letter after it scaled back its interest in a proposed residential and commercial development at Zacharias and Baldwin roads from 475 acres to 95 acres in response to the recession and the suffering real estate market.
Whitemyer said Tuesday that the city would continue to reach out to Keystone and present the option of a payment plan.
• Contact Kendall Septon at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.