City Resolution Will Divert Funds from PCDI

Lamar City Council

Lamar City Council

A resolution passed by the Lamar City Council during their October 26th meeting called for funds normally earmarked for Prowers County Development Incorporated in the 2016 city budget, to be redirected for community development in conjunction with the city’s Main Street Program. The City of Lamar and Prowers County have shared the costs of funding PCDI for several years, each with a $50,000 contribution.  The council, with one nay vote from Anne Marie Crampton, approved the resolution to divert funding for next year.

City Administrator, John Sutherland, said the discussion about funding is not new, “We’ve had this same discussion for each of the three years I’ve been here and I know it’s been on-going longer than that. The council is unhappy with the lack of results from the city’s annual investment.  We’ve reached the point where we feel more could be done if we kept that funding right here.”  He added that individually, the council would welcome an opportunity to participate in a county-wide effort if there was some economic development gain.

When asked if the funding would be used to augment a salary or pay for a city economic developer, similar to the position formerly held by Shawna Hodge, Sutherland replied, “That is exactly what last night’s resolution stated.” The council, he continued, left the door open with that resolution to further joint cooperation if it results in something meaningful.  He added that during annual budget discussions over joint PCDI funding with the county, we struggle with its fate, how to make it work or reboot it and out of frustration both entities just continue to put money in.  Sutherland said that faced with a tight budget, the council decided to do something different.  He said he is unaware of any changes in a mission statement or hiring direction for a new PCDI executive director that might be developed in light of the lack of funding.  The city and council had been working with the PCDI board on developing some new hiring guidelines for a future permanent director.  The PCDI board met in regular session today, and held an executive session regarding the resolution and funding, but took no action at this point.

Sutherland went on to say some smaller communities make the mistake of thinking that their economic development director will be their savior; a person who will be able to fix all the problems in a couple of years, and that’s not the case. He added, “That wore off for me a long time ago and I think others are feeling the same way.  We won’t hire a miracle worker who will come in and get us a GM plant.  That’s not the way economic development works.  I’ve never seen it work like that.”  With regard to the city’s role in economic development, Sutherland explained, “We have a basic mission to provide infrastructure and a safe working environment for citizens in our community.  That’s our core competence.  That’s what the city government should focus on.  Do a good job and use our resources to lever positive momentum and development when there’s an effort that looks like it will move us in a positive direction.  We can use our influence, networking capability, dollars, street and water money, to do the best job we can do and attract a business to our community in that manner.”

Prowers County Commissioner, Ron Cook, attended the council and PCDI meetings and is aware of the impact this will have, but said the commissioners need to discuss what this will mean for their annual funding. Cook added the resolution from the council does not come as a surprise, “We were discussing this as far back as 16 years ago when I was a council member.”  He added that the commissioners share the same interests as the city as seeing some return on investment for their annual donations, but it just hasn’t happened.  He said he’s doubtful that the county will have the funding to carry it alone for 2016.  The County’s budget is finalized in December, so there’s some time for added discussion, but not a lot.  He added that PCDI is one of the areas where the city and the county have a hard time finding common ground on joint funding.  “We have concerns over PCDI, as well as who funds how much for the E-911 Center, the ambulance or PATS funding.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a joint agreement on those shared costs.”

By Russ Baldwin

Brought to you by: Colorado East Bank & Trust

Brought to you by: Colorado East Bank & Trust

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedHot TopicsLamarPoliticsProwers CountyThe Journal Alert


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