Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

August 15, 2013

Council reduces, but approves, JEDCO expenditure – two years after initial request

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — The City Council formally authorized the  Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation Tuesday to contribute $10,000 to the Rusk Economic Development Corporation to ensure the continued service of Austin consultant Don Gilbert.

Gilbert was hired in 2003 to serve as an advocate of the Rusk State Hospital. He has been credited with saving the state hospital from privatization – a categorization some officials do not believe RSH could survive as an institution.

 An expenditure first was proposed about two years ago with a suggested contribution amount of roughly $20,000. The city council at that time tabled the matter in the hope of obtaining more detailed  information regarding the proposed amount, officials said.

Oddly, the matter stayed in limbo until resumed this week, officials said.

“This was sort of a muddled deal,”  Jack-sonville Finance Director Freddy Thomas explained.

The council discussed the matter at length during a Tuesday evening executive session before reconvening in regular session to vote.

In regular session, council members lowered the proposed contribution amount from roughly $20,000 to $10,000 – then subsequently and unanimously voted to authorize that expenditure.

Thomas said Jack-sonville provides support in a deliberate effort to maintain ties with the state hospital, since it is a key employer for Cherokee County.

After Gilbert was hired in 2003, he was paid $45,000 for his services – $15,000 from JEDCO, $15,000 from REDCO and $15,000 from the Rusk Industrial Foundation, records show.