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Kelly explains ‘no’ vote on FCDC funding

By Staff | Dec 12, 2010

Paula Kelly

Faribault County Development Corporation has secured one large funding source.

Now, the private non-profit economic organization waits to see what county officials will decide to do.

On Monday, the Blue Earth City Council showed its overwhelmingly support by voting 5-1 to give FCDC?$50,000.

For Paula Kelly, there were plenty of reasons why she should cast the lone dissenting vote.

“When people on a fixed income are having a hard time getting by and seeing the cost of everything going up, it just didn’t seem right giving them (FCDC) any money,” she says.

Kelly acknowledges the $50,000 is a small amount in an overall budget that totals nearly $4 million.

Kelly says she voted “no” because Blue Earth residents would be double-taxed if the county also decides to fund the development group. In the past, FCDC has received $50,000 from the county.

Another stumbling block for the Ward 3 councilor is not knowing how well FCDC has done in creating jobs since being formed in 2008.

Kelly believes the organization should be more accountable if they use public funds.

“As long as we give them money and don’t ask any questions they’re OK with that,” she says. “I might have put them higher on my priority list if I saw some results.”

Local officials will get their chance to see how successful FCDC has been, but they’ll have to wait another year to get a full report.

Under a three-year strategic plan that ends after 2011, FCDC has set out the following measurable outcomes:

• maintain an annual budget of $250,000;

• expand the tax base by $10 million;

• successfully complete five commercial/industrial projects;

• assist in the retention or creation of 150 quality jobs;

• expand private sector membership to 40 investors;

• enter into contractual agreements with four governmental units;

• expand staff to two employees.

Despite searching for its third executive director in as many years, FCDC president Jeff Lang says the group is still focused on attaining items spelled out in the plan.

“Those are our goals. We haven’t changed any and aren’t planning to,” he says.

The council’s move to have FCDC provide economic development services apparently means the city will not hire its own director.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey in the past has proposed the city hire someone to administer $1 million for housing rehabilitation, handle economic development and zoning/planning issues.

Bailey says she is accepting proposals from consulting firms to manage the housing funds.

“We have to have someone to keep the program on track, to get that money working and put to a good use,” she says. ”