2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: hdqrs@worldnet.att.net
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 09:18:10 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] SFAAP: Agencies to release Oz pacts

Agencies to release Oz pacts

Elvyn J. Jones
Daily News Reporter
After two years of negotiations, the state and federal government and The
Oz Entertainment Co. are ready to release documents governing the transfer
of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. 
The U.S. General Services Administration has scheduled a news conference
for 11 a.m. Thursday at Sunflower to announce the completion of draft
agreements covering the plant's transfer and its environmental remediation,
said Blaine Hastings, who's handling the transfer for the GSA.
While the 900 pages of documents and agreements can be reviewed at the news
conference, they might not be available to the public until Friday, when
they'll be available at the county's public libraries. The documents also
will be on the GSA's Web site at 
Oz has been negotiating the transfer of Sunflower with the U.S. Army and
the GSA. The agreement ultimately would transfer Sunflower to Oz for the
company's commitment to clean up the plant's solid-waste contamination sites.
Among the documents being released is the consent agreement negotiated
between Oz and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The consent
agreement spells out when and how Oz will proceed with its cleanup
responsibilities; it also establishes the insurance policies and bonding Oz
must purchase to guarantee the cleanup.
The Johnson County Commission, Gov. Bill Graves, the Kansas Development
Finance Authority and Congress must approve the transfer before Oz can take
title to Sunflower. The documents' release will start that review process.
County commissioners and the state finance authority's governing board will
be asked to approve Oz's redevelopment plan for Sunflower. That document
explains the company's plan to develop, operate and finance its proposed
$771 million Wonderful World of Oz Theme Park and Resort at the plant.
Oz spokesman David Westbrook said the company is committed to making public
its redevelopment agreement for Sunflower. That document is in production,
and the goal is to release it Thursday, he said. 
However, the document's preparation requires careful proofreading, he said,
which might delay its release until early next week.
"We commend the decision of the federal government and state to release
their documents at the (news) conference," he said. "We're making every
effort to keep pace."
The Johnson County commissioners have scheduled a work session for July 24,
during which Oz officials will present the redevelopment plan. The county
then plans to have two public hearings before making a decision on Oz's plan.
The county commission will be asked to approve a tax-increment financing,
or TIF, agreement as part of the redevelopment plan, Oz attorney Larry Winn
III said Tuesday. The financing would allow Oz to divert property taxes
owed to the county to pay off bonds used to finance the theme park's
Commissioner Johnna Lingle, whose district includes Sunflower, said she
remains "skeptical" of a TIF. Oz will have to document the benefit to the
county and its taxpayers before she will support an unprecedented tax
break, she said.
"Johnson County has never given TIF financing - period," she added. 
The Army and the GSA would like to see the agreement approved or rejected
by Sept. 30, the end of the federal government's fiscal year, said
Hastings. He cited the Army's ongoing commitment to clean solid-waste sites
at Sunflower as the reason.
The Army's funds to carry out that environmental remediation ends at the
end of the fiscal year. Should the plant remain in federal hands, Congress
would have to approve more remediation funding and - if final closing is
delayed much past Sept. 30 - do additional cleanup work at Sunflower.
Any additional environmental work the Army does would increase the value of
Sunflower and reduce the amount of work Oz would be required to complete,
and make necessary rewriting the negotiated agreements, Hastings said.
Lingle said Hastings informed her of the federal government's desire to
complete the transfer by Sept. 30. To help assure that, the federal
official asked the county to move up the review process, she said.
"The pressure is on," said Lingle. "Interestingly, I haven't had any
pressure from the state."
During a Monday meeting with Oz president Robert Kory and Wonderful World
of Oz president Skip Palmer, Lingle said she "reaffirmed" the county
commission's decision to start its review process July 24.
County commissioners always have said they wouldn't start their review
until all documents were made public or until during their annual
budget-approval process, said Lingle. The commission's budget process
started Monday and will continue until July 20.

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