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Budget with .5% decrease over this year approved for 2010 by EDC

WILLMAR -- Governing board members of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission approved a lean budget Thursday for 2010.

The agency proposes to spend $485,811 next year on programs and projects ranging from business recruitment and retention to renewable energy, bioscience, tourism and marketing.

That's a half-percent decrease from this year's $487,713 budget.

For the third year in a row, the property tax levy for the Economic Development Commission will remain the same, at $455,000.

The EDC will make up the difference by applying some of its reserve fund toward next year's spending.

One of the largest budget categories, for the EDC's five committees, was set at $135,000 for next year. That's about $2,000 less than was budgeted this year.

Committee members were told to keep their proposed budgets for 2010 at a zero increase, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.

"They did a very good job of following that guidance," he said.

Although the board didn't make any specific allocation for a lobbyist, the consensus Thursday was that a lobbying consultant will be needed, especially since a legislative decision will likely be made next year on the site of a new veterans' nursing home for which Willmar is in the running.

"I think we have to go one more year," said Dean Shuck of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

The cost could range up to $12,000, depending on how the lobbyist's contract is written.

Renquist said the money could be found in the budget, probably by shifting a couple of line items.

"We don't have to make any decision today," he said.

The current year's budget also is undergoing scrutiny to see if there's anywhere it could be trimmed.

After two years of holding the fiscal line, there's little fat left, but Renquist said he has tentatively identified about $15,000 worth of cuts -- a 3 percent saving -- that might be made.

"There are certainly things we can do," he said.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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