PARIS, TX - After a heated hour debate the Paris city council, by a 4-2 vote, sent the Paris Economic Development Corporation's budget back to the board.
The council instructed them to drop the $89,000 to fund the Red River Region Business Incubator, a non profit organization that helps grow small businesses and create jobs.
They also advised the cut of $33,000 from Retail Attractions, which brings retail businesses to Paris including recent additions like Schlotzskys, Panda Express, Rusty Taco and Rue 21.
"We made a commitment to the voters when we brought that organization and that was that money would be used towards creation of manufacturing jobs." said Mayor AJ Hashmi.
Speculation about whether it is legal for the PEDC to fund these organizations was the main concern.
"Using 4 A money for creation of non manufacturing jobs is against the law." said Hashmi.
Many local business owners spoke in support of the budget saying the money can be legally spent as long as its designated for promotional expenses and is less than ten percent of the budget.
Councilman Matt Frierson voted against sending the budget back, questioning why the board didn't approve the budget and wait for the attorney general's opinion.
"Continue operations as normal, as we know them to be successful and as they have been successful for the last two years." said Frierson. "Then if its deemed unacceptable then make the appropriate changes at that time."
Red River Region Business Incubator Director Hank Betke says the incubator will face some challenges without the funds from the PEDC.
"When you lose half your funding lets face it there's some challenges, but we'll deal with it." said Betke.
Betke says if it's illegal to fund the incubator, than several cities around Texas must be operating illegally as well.
"The fact of the matter is, if we are illegal, so are about 15 other type a incubators in the state." said Betke.
The PEDC board will now go back and rework their budget.