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  • Last modified 16 days ago (Feb. 8, 2018)

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County agrees to speed payment to economic group

Staff writer

Instead of giving a county economic development group this year’s payments in four installments, as promised, county commissioners on Wednesday agreed to give three quarters of the year’s money by the end of this month.

Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation treasurer Mike Beneke asked commissioners to provide the entire $165,000 pledged for the year.

“We would be more comfortable if we had the total dollars before we hire an executive director,” Beneke said.

Commissioner Randy Dallke asked county clerk Tina Spencer if handing over the money now would be possible.

Commission chairman Dianne Novak said her concern is that the corporation now has a new board of directors and the commission has not yet heard a plan for their work.

“I’ve called seven people in the last few days to ask what are they doing and where are they going,” Novak said.

“Our position is, we would like all members on before we start that process,” Beneke said.

The board has seven board members and two vacant seats.

“All I can say at this point is, we have some well-rounded members on the board,” Beneke said.

Pressed by Novak to say what his own goals are for the corporation, Beneke said it’s important to him to assist businesses already in the county, and to entice youth to make the county their permanent home.

“Have you identified a plan?” Novak asked. “Is there any focus at all?”

Beneke said the board doesn’t want to hire a director without money in the bank to pay their salary.

The county paid its first quarterly installment of $41,250 Wednesday.

Commissioner Kent Becker asked if the commission could get a short monthly report on the progress of the group and Beneke said that had been discussed at a Tuesday night board meeting.

Novak expressed reservations.

“Without a plan, without a definite direction, I’m scared of it,” Novak said. “I’m just saying if you have a plan, if you have a consensus, I’d feel comfortable with it.”

Novak said she’d like to table the matter for a week, to give commissioners time to ponder it.

“I am all for the entire economic development thing,” Novak said. “I want to see you move forward.”

Although Dallke originally moved to go ahead and pay the remaining $123,750 in February, he took back that motion and moved instead to pay an additional $78,750, bringing the money to three quarters of the year’s allotment. That will leave $41,250 still to be paid.

The motion carried on a 2-1 vote, with Novak opposed.

The county has pledged a total of $825,000 spread over five years to the economic development group.

Last modified Feb. 8, 2018

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