The Baltimore City Council has given preliminary approval to a $2.5 million industrial revenue bond issue that would allow executives of the sausage-manufacturing H. G. Parks company to buy back the firm and reestablish it as one of the largest minority-owned businesses in the country.
Parks executives told the council they hope to set up a stock-sharing plan that would help fund health insurance, pensions and other benefits for the company's 234 employes.
Under the plan -- which a Commerce Department official described as unique among minority businesses -- employes would not have to pay for the stock but would be reimbursed for their individual stock holdings when they leave the company.
Parks, the seventh-largest minority firm in sales and then one of two publicly held black firms in the country, was purchased in 1977 by a Miami conglomerate, the Norin Corp., which in turn sold out last July to Cannellus Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y.
Parks Chairman Henry G. Parks, President Raymond V. Haysbert Sr. and three other executives who had stayed on with the 29-year-old Baltimore company are attempting to regain control as Annellus divests itself of its new smaller holdings.
Baltimore authorizes industrial revenue bonds with tax-exempt benefits to help firms locate or remain in depressed areas of the city, but it does not assume any liability for the issues. The Parks bond would allow the corporate officers to raise money for their buyout at below-market interest rates, saving them "several thousand dollars in interest, at least in the first couple of years," Councilman Thomas J. S. Waxter Jr. said.
Waxter and other dissenting council members questioned the use of that kind of financing authority to help a group of corporate officers gain control of a company, saying there was no clear commitment to the employes or the city about the stock-sharing plan.
However, the bond measure passed its second reading by a 13-to-2 vote this week and is expected to emerge from a third reading next Monday.Final council authority for the issue is "fairly well automatic," said Councilman Norman V. A. Reeves, a backer.
Baltimore has authorized a number of far-larger industrial revenue bonds, including a $110 million issue to help Consolidated Coal Co. develop port facilities and others for Allied Chemical Co. and printing, poultry, sheet metal and restaurant firms.
H. G. Parks, which had sales of $14.7 million when it was sold, saw its earnings of $900,000 slashed in half after it was acquired by the conglomerate and could no longer quality for government contracts set aside for minority businesses, chief executive officer Haysbert said. He said Parks lost $1 million in sales each year, in part because it was "forgotten in the backwash of all the major actions" of Norin, its parent company. "We plateaued in sales and emphasis and had to pick up corporate overhead," he said. "It knocked our earnings down."
Once the firm regains its status as a black corporation -- Haysbert will retain 51 percent of the stock -- it will go after the lucrative city, state and federal contracts it held before, such as Defense Deapartment meatt institution and Agriculture Department meat supply, he said.
As a result, Parks said it will be able to hire 55 additional employes over the next three years. Eighty percent of its employes now are minority group members.
Haysbert, a former business administration professor, joined Parks as office manager a year after it was founded by Henry Parks and his silent partner, William L. Adams, a prominent black businessman in Baltimore. Adams continues on the Parks board of directors.
His wife, City Councilwoman Victorine Q. Adams, abstained from voting on the bond issue measure. Haysbert, William Adams and Henry Parks -- himself a member of the City Council from 1963 to 1969 -- are active in the the business and political life of Baltimore.