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SCDRC answers questions on planner position

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news Jamestown, 58401
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The Stutsman County Commission met with representatives of the South Central Dakota Regional Council and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Tuesday to ask questions about the SCDRC budget.

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"We got some information about the regional council budget, and there was some questions and concerns about it," said Mark Klose, commission chairman. "That's why we're having this meeting jointly."

Klose said most of the concern had related to deficit spending, and the addition of a staff member -- a community planner -- despite a decrease in some services offered by the SCDRC.

Stutsman County Auditor/Chief Operating Officer Casey Bradley presented information comparing the SCDRC's budget in 2008-2009 to its proposed budget for 2014, which showed a 64 percent increase in revenue and a 96 percent increase in expenditures.

Bradley also showed a decrease from 2008-2009 compared to 2012-2013 in clients served, business starts and new jobs created.

Several people spoke on behalf of the SCDRC, including Anne Ehni, a member of its executive board, and Deb Kantrud, its executive director.

"I appreciate the fact that you're diligent on looking at our budget," Ehni said,

Kantrud said that business starts had likely gone down during the 2012-2013 year because the business manager had quit during that time period.

In addition, Kantrud said that the SCDRC is negotiating a contract with Valley City, N.D., and should that contract be signed, the SCDRC will have no deficit spending.

The SCDRC also presented its complete budgeted expenditures and revenues from its 2008-2009 year to its projections for 2014-2015, which showed deficit spending in only one year -- the year the organization purchased a new car and paid for a new furnace.

Commissioner Dave Schwartz expressed concern over the deficit spending as well.

"You're destined for failure with these kinds of figures," Schwartz said, indicating a decrease in new jobs created from 30 in 2008-2009 to 20 in 2012-2013.

Kantrud indicated some of what SCDRC had done was not shown on the paper that showed the decreases, such as a housing study that included the small cities and multiple Federal Emergency Management Agency grants.

"... we're doing far, far more services than were ever provided in 2008-2009," Kantrud said.

Ehni read from the North Dakota Century Code in order to explain that regional councils are specifically mandated to do community planning.

"Some concern on that planning position is, is there enough need to justify a person for that?" Klose asked, noting the JSDC and city of Jamestown do have planning services already.

"We get requests from communities throughout the region," Ehni said. "Fessenden (N.D.) is 90 miles away. ... we are looking for someone for the entire region. Jamestown does a fine job of planning and we have no intention of jumping in and taking over your workload."

Kantrud said the SCDRC community planner will do disaster preparedness planning -- and sometimes those plans result in receiving grants related to mitigation, such as grants for generators.

"We must have staff to develop the services for all of the people in our nine counties, not just Jamestown and Stutsman County," Kantrud said.

Ehni said the additional position should not increase dues the counties pay that help fund the SCDRC.

Kantrud said if her plan for adding the new position does not work, staff will have to be cut.

The SCDRC is also looking at providing building inspection services for its nine-county service area.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at klucin@jamestownsun.com

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