Jessup Borough Council and Solicitor Richard Fanucci have squandered a rare opportunity for a small community to negotiate with a big corporation from a position of strength. Voting 5-1 Monday to accept Chicago-based Invenergy LLC‘s anemic host community agreement, council forfeited a golden opportunity to get a better deal for Jessupians.
Councilman Joseph Mellado cast the lone dissenting vote, telling Times-Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Horvath, “I think there is more money on the table.”
There almost certainly was, if council and Mr. Fanucci had not rushed to approve a deal judged insufficient by expert negotiators of such pacts. In a Feb. 23 certified letter to Mr. Fanucci and council, Pittsburgh-based Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services said Invenergy should pay $5 million more annually than the $1 million it offered to pay in exchange for permission to build a gas-fired power plant from which it will reap billions.
Mr. Fanucci defended the deal he negotiated, predicting that it will bring Jessup some $89 million over 45 years. His estimate is based on money from the agreement and future taxes — once Invenergy starts paying them. Remember, the plant will be built on a KOZ tax-free property.
It’s possible Mr. Fanucci got the best deal he could, but there’s really no way to know because he rejected the Fair Shake analysis outright. Shame on him for ignoring a second opinion that might have led to a healthier, wealthier Jessup, and shame on council for refusing to honor its sworn responsibility for due diligence.