EDP leaders have not yet signed the agreement because they believe the city wants to dictate how the organization operates, said EDP President and Chief Executive Officer Jody Lassiter.
Lassiter and Hunstad engaged in a heated debate during part of the meeting.
“I mean you’ve got your troops rallied here,” Hunstad said in reference to the nearly filled meeting room.
Hunstad said he felt some of the letters and emails that people opposed to the agreement sent were inappropriate. One of the letters had “We Mean Business” printed on it in red.
John Albright, chairman of the Boyle County Industrial Foundation, said the “We Mean Business” statement referred to the EDP’s focus on business development and was not intended as a threat.
“The public perception is that this is Jody Lassiter or the EDP versus (Hunstad) or the City Commission,” Albright said. “But in my opinion, it’s Danville and Boyle County versus everyone else.”
Albright and Lassiter stressed that Danville and Boyle County must compete for tourism dollars with other areas of Kentucky and even other states such as Ohio and Tennessee.
Tourism in Boyle County and Danville increased by 9 percent in 2011 and was one of only two areas in the state to see such a significant increase in tourism, said Vicki Darnell, president of the Heart of Danville Main Street Program.
“Heads in the bed and cash registers ringing (is) positive for Danville and Boyle County,” Darnell said.
Louis said she appreciates the efforts of the EDP but is concerned not enough is being done for the approximately 9 to 12 percent of the population who is unemployed.
Darnell agreed, stating that the EDP must be about job creation but that the organization and the City Commission should trust each other.
Commissioner Kevin Caudill’s remarks about the matter twice drew applause from the audience. He said he would not support getting involved in how the EDP spends its $120,000 of city funds.
“I’m comfortable approving (the money) knowing it’s going toward business development,” Caudill said.
City Attorney Stephen Dexter said he was encouraged by the open discussion at Monday’s meeting and is committed to creating a funding agreement that satisfies both the EDP and the City Commission. He hopes to have a new draft by the June 25 meeting.