EDA considers 2013 budget

The Cook County – Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) spent much of its July 10, 2012 meeting talking about the budget it would be presenting to the county board for approval. However, the EDA had some difficulty developing a budget as it is unsure when it will be hiring a new director and what is ahead for its housing program.
EDA personal committee member Bruce Martinson said the EDA had received 13 applications for the director position. However, he said because the amount the EDA will be able to levy is still up in the air, the board should wait to decide about who to hire.  He said although the EDA must submit its budget to the county for approval by mid-July, the county does not complete its budget process until December, so the EDA will not know what it will be receiving until then. “At this point, I think we should not hire a director. We should hire at the end of the year,” said Martinson.
The EDA budget committee’s proposed budget of $148,566 for 2013 was reviewed. There was discussion regarding the success of the EDA housing program and how it has changed because it is no longer a joint Cook – Lake County entity. The board agreed that the housing program budget should be increased accordingly.
EDA Board Member Scott Harrison suggested seeking an increase in the housing administrative budget from the proposed $37,000 to $62,000. Harrison additionally proposed increasing the housing projects budget line from $20,000 to $40,000 for a total of $102,000 for the EDA housing program. He also suggested increasing the EDA’s budget contingency fee by $6,000 for a total overall budget of approximately $200,000. The EDA passed a motion to present that budget request to the county.
EDA Chair Mark Sandbo said if the budget they request is approved, they would have options to hire a director. He said a director is needed to promote the EDA’s five activities—Cedar Grove Business Park, the housing program, Superior National at Lutsen, commercial rehabs and the scholarship fund.
Sandbo said, “The EDA is eligible to levy up to $386,000 and we get $148,566. It’s a crying shame.”
EDA Board Members asked Bruce Martinson, who serves as county commissioner for District 5, if he would support this EDA request. Martinson said he would, but “not to the bitter end.”
Sandbo asked why he would not fight for an increased EDA levy and Martinson said, “I do support this, but if it will cost other areas to keep this, I may have to give. For example, if I have to support calcium chloride applications over this, I will support calcium chloride. We’re looking at a couple hundred contingencies.”
Sandbo said, “So you’d support $30,000 for calcium chloride, but not for something that brings thousands of dollars into our community?”
EDA Board Member Hal Greenwood urged Martinson to fight for the EDA levy and an increase in the housing program budget. “No other program brings the county a better return,” said Greenwood.