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Cities will ask county for help

By Staff | Jul 17, 2011

Austin Bleess

Winnebago’s city administrator is at it again.

First, Austin Bleess put together a plan aimed at helping Blue Earth officials save money spent on police service.

This time he’s eyeing the Faribault County Commission and economic development.

Bleess will suggest to the county board Tuesday that they give Blue Earth, Wells and Winnebago $10,000 each.

At the present time the county has been earmarking $50,000 annually for the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC), a private non-profit development group. The city of Blue Earth also pays $50,000 a year for services.

“We think we can do it better and more efficient. We have all cities and townships onboard with this,” he says.

Several months ago Bleess and his counterparts Kathy Bailey of Blue Earth and Jeremy Germann of Wells began discussing ways to improve economic development efforts.

The idea gained momentum during a meeting recently held in Blue Earth for Faribault County elected officials.

Bleess says much of the discussion centered on cities sharing services, due to cuts in Local Government Aid and the state’s budget problems.

“This is a perfect opportunity to reorganize how we do things, and it would save the county $20,000,” he says “It’s a great step toward sharing resources on a countywide level.”

Bleess has reason to believe county officials may support his proposal.

There already is precedence with the library system.

Funding is given to the libraries in Blue Earth, Wells and Winnebago to provide services and books to seven smaller ones in the county.

“It’s a system that works. We aren’t re-inventing the wheel. This could be easily done for economic development as well,” Bleess says.

At the county board meeting, Bleess will present commissioners with a contract similar to the ones with FCDC and the libraries.

Bleess says the three cities will serve the same areas as under the library model.

The city administrators hope to make it easier for new or existing businesses seeking a loan.

Bleess says they will use the same agencies and funding resources used by FCDC.

“We want to streamline the process and make this a one-stop shop for businesses filling out a loan application or seeking other assistance,” he says.