SCDRC asks city, county how to make them happyThe South Central Dakota Regional Council’s full board was looking to prevent a breakup Tuesday. The board is asking Jamestown and Stutsman County for ways the SCDRC could provide better services to keep the city and county, which pay the largest share of the council’s dues, from leaving.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The South Central Dakota Regional Council’s full board was looking to prevent a breakup Tuesday.
The board is asking Jamestown and Stutsman County for ways the SCDRC could provide better services to keep the city and county, which pay the largest share of the council’s dues, from leaving.
“We have no idea what the problem is because it hasn’t been brought up in a meeting,” said Deb Kantrud, SCDRC executive director.
Recently the City Council and the Jamestown Stutsman Development Corp., which pays the dues for the city and the Stutsman County, have expressed a possible interest in leaving the SCDRC.
The city and county combined paid $32,200 in 2012 or roughly 35 percent of the dues the organization uses. SCDRC matches more money for federal grants than it receives in dues from participating counties, Kantrud said. Administration fees and fees for writing grants cover the expenses not covered by dues.
SCDRC provides services for grant distribution and business planning to a nine-county region in the area.
At the meeting Kantrud provided data showing the total economic impact from the Community Development Block Grant Loan program from 1984 to 2012 in Stutsman County. It showed a total impact of $9,980,313, which included economic development, public facilities and housing impacts.
Duane Spooner, SCDRC business manager, said gap financing loans given out by SCDRC and the impact those have had generated about $868,000 in sales tax last year for Jamestown.
Having the city and county bring up leaving SCDRC is what concerns Spooner, considered what the two entities receive for what they put in.
Spooner compared the city and county to a male lion in the wilderness, because it city receives the bulk of benefits as does the lion, the leader of the pride.
“… If the male lion isn’t satisfied what about the rest of the pride?” he said.
Don Frye, Carrington mayor and SCDRC representative from Foster County cities, said concerns need to be outlined so proper steps can be taken to ensure all parties are satisfied.
“We’ll only be successful if we work together, and there’s no question Jamestown and Stutsman County have more issues than some of our other groups, and I can appreciate that,” Frye said. “But let’s work together to solve these problems instead of saying ‘I’m going to take my toys and go home,’ that’s not very wise.”
The full SCDRC board agreed to have the executive board send a letter to the City Council and County Commission on why exactly the two want to leave the SCDRC.
Included on the list of recipients will be Councilman Ramone Gumke and Commissioner Craig Neyes, both SCDRC members who were absent at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The challenge we face is if we don’t stay united,” Frye said. “We are very strong regionally, we have a huge future going forward, and we need to work as a union — one united group going forward — as we work for this area.”
He said this presents an opportunity for the SCDRC to look at ways to add additional revenue and improve services offered.
Kantrud said SCDRC did work on FEMA Hazard Mitigation plans for Emmons and Pierce counties for fees, which allow those counties access to two additional FEMA programs in the event of a disaster.
The office recently turned away five other counties for similar work because it doesn’t have the staffing power to do the extra work.
“But then we need to staff enough here and fund properly so we don’t cause a reduction of services for us, but generate revenue to provide services,” Frye said.
Kantrud said the North Dakota Department of Commerce has recently discussed allocating additional dollars through the Governor’s Fund for planning services for each county.
SCDRC also decided to form a committee to look into developing another extension of the economic development group to focus on providing more services to bring in more revenue, regardless of what the city and county decide to do.
“It does affect rural Stutsman County more than the city of Jamestown and that would be a shame,” Spooner said. “So I do think we have to move forward positively and address it point-on. Like what Don is saying, we can’t fix something if we don’t know what’s broken.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org