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EDC signs off on budget for 2012

WILLMAR -- For the fourth year in a row, the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission is holding the line on the property tax levy it's requesting in 2012.

The EDC's governing board ap-proved a budget Thursday that in-cludes a tax levy of $455,000 and proposed expenditu-res of $508,508.

The tax levy, the main source of revenue for the Economic Development Commission to operate its programs, has been flat since 2009.

The agency has tried to remain austere through a time of national recession and concerns about government spending.

Although all the signs indicate the recession is over, "it seems to be prudent" for the EDC to continue being fiscally conservative, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.

"What gives us the ability to do that is the reserve fund," he said.

The EDC plans to draw down about $53,500 from its reserve fund next year to support the budget. This year it is projected to spend $45,000 from reserves while maintaining a zero increase in the property tax levy.

The 2012 budget will be forwarded to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners and the Willmar City Council for final approval. Property tax levies for next year need to be certified by mid-September.

The Economic Development Commission plans to keep its spending flat in most categories next year. Committee members have already been told to expect the same budget next year as they have this year, Renquist said. "All are doing excellent work."

Pay increases of 2 percent have been proposed for both the executive director and assistant director. It would be the first time in two years they've received a raise; their salaries were frozen in this year's budget.

The current budget is on target so far, Renquist said. It calls for spending $500,589 on programs ranging from renewable energy development to business retention and marketing.

But after three consecutive years of stagnating revenue, this will probably be the first time the EDC will spend its full $455,000 property tax levy by the end of the year, he said. "We're being cautious but it's just getting tighter."

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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