Workshop on Jabil deal postponed
ST. PETERSBURG- A City Council Workshop to discuss open government in the wake of a controversial incentives package for Jabil Circuit has been pushed back to late August or September.
The city approved the workshop Thursday, nearly a month after the council approved a multi-million incentive package for Jabil without public notice or discussion.
Council Chairman Jamie Bennett, who sets the council agenda, had said the workshop would tentatively be held in early August if approved by the council.
But the city has had some trouble setting a date that would accommodate all the involved parties. State, county and city officials are expected to attend and discuss the state's confidentiality law, which requires economic development staff members, but not elected officials, to shield business deals at a company's request.
Council member Karl Nurse called for the workshop earlier this month.
But Thursday, Council member Leslie Curran questioned why city officials had quietly begun to plan the workshop before the council had even agreed to hold it.
"If we going to have open government, let's do it right,"she said.
Curran said city staff should hold off from planning workshops in the future until the council as a whole directed them.
Nurse said staff invited county and state officials to attend the meeting at Mayor Rick Baker's request, not his.
The Jabil incentives package is part of a city, county and state effort to persuade the company, one of Tampa Bay's largest high-tech employers, to stay in St. Petersburg. It's unclear if the incentives package will do the trick. Jabil has kept mum about its plans.
Secret negotiations to keep the company and its 1,900 jobs began in October after Jabil announced it was looking to relocate, possibly out of state.
The biggest chunk of the $34.4-million incentives package would be paid by the state. The county plans to chip in $1.7-million. The city's $12.7-million share includes grants, tax refunds and road and utility improvements.
Jabil gets the incentives only if it hires 858 new workers at an average annual salary of $42,685. Jabil also must build a $49-million campus, generating about $300,000 annually in new tax revenue to the county.
-Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer