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Wells EDA board revamps and sees two resignations

By Staff | Jan 31, 2016

The Economic Development Authority (EDA) in Wells may notice a few vacancies on their EDA board. And those vacancies will be permanent.

That is because the EDA had two resignations in the month of January, on the same day which just so happened to be the day the City Council had a public hearing to amend the resolution establishing the EDA.

The original resolution for the EDA was made in November of 1988 and stated the board would consist of five members; two of whom were to be members on the City Council.

At the beginning of the month, the City Council discussed amending that resolution by changing the makeup of the board from two City Council members on the EDA to four City Council members.

The new resolution was written as: “The (EDA) shall consist of five members, four of whom shall be the four sitting members of the City Council and one appointed resident of the city. The one appointed resident member shall be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council for six terms.”

Also, according to city administrator Robin Leslie, the city of Wells was not following their own resolution for the past 27 years by having an added two members on their EDA board.

Kim Sorenson and Zoa Heckman, both previously seated on the EDA board, resigned their posts almost immediately afterwards. But, not without informing the City Council of their views.

Both members submitted letters of resignation and both members told the council their feelings on the possible changes in the EDA’s board.

“The Wells City Council has either forgot, does not know, or are being led in a very dangerous direction when it comes to effective committees,” is the beginning sentence of Sorenson’s letter of resignation.

Sorenson later cites the Minnesota Supreme Court case of Village of Chisholm v. Bergeron, 1923 in his resignation.

In summation, the court decision says that Legislature, like the EDA, was meant for public business enterprises which should be free from frequent political changes, and the influence of political parties or groups.

Heckman also alluded, in her letter, to a change in direction.

“You have been together a long time and have a set path. It is not the path I would follow at this critical point in Wells housing. I am resigning effective immediately,” the letter states.

However, there was no motion for the new resolution to change from two City Council members to four.

At the same time, the City Council did move to have another public hearing to change the board from five (three public, two City Council) to seven (five public, two City Council members). That way, the city would no longer be breaking its original resolution for the EDA.

Last week, at their regular City Council meeting, the council rescinded the motion for their public hearing and requested to leave the EDA as it was structured in the 1988 resolution.

The EDA in Wells will stay at five people three public members and two City Council members.

The City Council also:

Heard from Donn Browne of the Wells Pistol & Rifle Club who updated the council on the club’s grant writing and plans for improvement during the summer, which would include laying concrete and adding some shade trees to the area. Browne also requested parking for the club’s annual gun show.

Approved a one year contract for services with the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC).

Bumped up wages for seasonal street laborers to a range of $12-$18 to create more competitive wages for jobs in the Wells area.

Postponed their review for their 2015 goals and goals for 2016 until all council members were present, since Whitney Harig and Steve Burns were absent from the meeting.

Approved a standard resolution to increase local government aid to the city of Wells.

Allowed the Wells VFW to change their club license from their current address to Wildcats 2, a spare space next door to Wildcat’s Bar and Grill, since the VFW has had extensive changes to their venue.

The Wells City Council’s next regular meeting will be held on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m.