Declaring that it's the city's job to protect taxpayers, Mayor Tim Keller late Monday vetoed a $2.6 million economic development deal to help Topgolf build a $39 million restaurant and indoor golf facility in the city.
In a news release announcing the veto, Keller said the Topgolf package that was approved by the City Council on an 8-1 vote, fails to meet his administration's criteria of creating good-paying jobs. He also said that the deal sends the wrong message in that it prioritizes out-of-state companies over local firms.
“From the beginning, we have expressed our desire to welcome Topgolf, but this project failed to meet our criteria for growing the local economy and creating good-paying jobs, “Keller said. “While we were able to improve the deal, we’re still not there yet. This deal also sends the wrong signal that we are prioritizing out-of-state companies over similar local efforts, and that a company can end run an independent professional vetting process through a political process. It’s our job to protect taxpayers, and I know that we can do it better. We want to work together and take the time to get it right.”
Keller has said that the city needs to help home-grown businesses and attract economic base jobs – jobs where the good or service that's produced is sold out of state or in other countries. Economic base, or export, jobs are the only way a community can grow its economy and bring new money into a community.
Keller's news release added that the city's Economic Development department has established criteria for new economic development projects that seek taxpayer-funded incentives.
“The criteria will guide new economic development initiatives, as well as establish focus on homegrown local and small businesses,” Keller's release said.
The council won't meet again until Aug. 6.