Board: Stick with SCDRCThe executive board of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. has backed off on recommending that Stutsman County should leave the South Central Dakota Regional Council.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The executive board of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. has backed off on recommending that Stutsman County should leave the South Central Dakota Regional Council.
The unanimous vote to rescind the recommendation to drop the membership came Monday during the board’s regular meeting. It is strictly advisory and the final decision is up to the Stutsman County Commission.
“We are under the impression you have voted to leave the South Central Dakota Regional Council,” said Joe Neis, SCDRC secretary/treasurer. “I am personally struggling with that, as a 26-year member of the board I feel it is the heart of the region and the leadership of the region. We have a regional hospital and a regional airport. It floored me you wanted to get out.”
Neis was part of a SCDRC delegation that had requested a meeting with the JSDC Executive Board.
The JSDC Executive Board had voted during its regular October meeting to recommend Jamestown and Stutsman County drop its membership in the SCDRC and not pay the $32,000 in annual dues. The recommendation has not been acted upon by the full board of the JSDC, Jamestown City Council or County Commission.
The dues are divided with 67 percent paid by Jamestown and 33 percent paid by Stutsman County with both using jobs development funds that JSDC helps administer. Despite paying the smaller share, the membership belongs to Stutsman County. The expense of the dues paid by the city and county reduces the funding available for other jobs development activities but does give residents access to the economic development programs offered at SCDRC.
“This goes back to the fact that the JSDC funds have been cut in half with half taken by the city,” said Connie Ova, JSDC chief executive officer, referring to the proposal to drop the Stutsman County membership. “It is difficult to survive on half the funding; we are looking at the benefits versus what it is costing.”
Ova said the JSDC was considering expanding operations to implement a revolving loan fund but did not have the staff. Keeping the money paid to SCDRC could make it possible to add another staff position. SCDRC already operates a revolving loan fund for entrepreneurs.
“We had a lot of discussion about what’s the value,” said Alex Schweitzer, JSDC president. “Can we equate the $32,000 to the value we get?”
Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer, said the issue was tied to performance and communications.
“We need to see results,” Bradley said.
The discussion included talks on the opportunities for the two organizations to work together.
“What we’re trying to do is create a center for entrepreneurs,” said Jim Boyd, JSDC Board member.
Neis replied that working together could help reach that goal.
“We can work together to make the region stronger,” he said. “It would be devastating to see the county pull out.”
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said she recognized that the JSDC was only acting in an advisory capacity.
“This is a county decision,” she said. “I don’t know if we can force the county to retain its membership.”
No members of the Stutsman County Commission attended the meeting.
Bradley said the issue is not on the agenda for the December commission meetings and the funds for membership for 2013 had been already budgeted.
“As far as I can tell we continue as normal,” he said.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org