Lamar City Council Reviews Job Description for URA Manager

Lamar City Council

Lamar City Council

The Lamar City Council held a work session prior to its regular Monday night meeting on September 28th, covering needed changes for the Community Development and Urban Renewal Manager positions left vacant by the recent departure of Shawna Hodge.

City Administrator, John Sutherland, gave the council a one page outline covering the job description. Sutherland said of the two year old document, “It looks heavier on economic development than I would have liked. It doesn’t focus on Main Street which was semi-intentional, but Main Street’s pretty important. So we should have some mention of Main Street relating to the executive director.” It’s not a complete description as Hodge’s duties which were expanded to cover Urban Renewal within the past year. Prior to that, she worked as the executive director of Lamar Partnership Incorporated and as the Main Street Coordinator, but some of her functions began to overlap into the area of Urban Redevelopment. The Urban Renewal Authority didn’t have a specific manager, although its membership was the Lamar City Council, working with the City Administrator. Sutherland added that he has had some local inquiries into the vacant position, “I’ve had interest from a couple of people who are remarkably well-qualified. Not with specific economic development experience, but they show a good education, good history with the community and willing to throw their shoulder to the wheel. People who have lived here, moved away and are looking to come back, at least one of them.”

The city and the county are also discussing the scope of employment and what may be a certain change in direction for the future mission of Prowers County Development Incorporated. Once those changes have become solidified, probably after both their budgets for 2016 have been set, PCDI is expected to begin a search for a replacement executive director. That role and how it may interact with economic development from the Urban Renewal Authority still needs to be outlined. Sutherland addressed that issue, “This depends on what becomes of us during negotiations with the county regarding our economic development investment. I don’t want to go off on a direction that precludes where we’re headed. I’ve had feedback from some commission members and I remain uncertain about how that’s going to end up. How our investments are going to be and what the two roles will be and how we want those roles to work together.” He alluded to a shift to having the city take the responsibility for the position. Most council members felt that situation would bring the focus away from economic development for the county and prioritizing the Main Street Program, Urban Redevelopment and the Lamar Partnership group. They acknowledged that both parties would still need to form a cooperative alliance for future economic growth.

There had been some thought that the City of Lamar may limit its role with PCDI, to include economic support. That organization has been funded for the past several years by $50,000 annual contributions from both the City and County. The County made a $25,000 contribution to PCDI this past September, while the City payed $12,500 stating the balance would be sent by the end of October due to a cash flow situation.  PCDI will close on its East Washington Street property on October 2.  The asking price was reduced on the warehouse and acreage several months ago.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarProwers CountyWiley


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