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EDC board turns down proposal for mileage reimbursement

WILLMAR — A proposal to offer mileage reimbursement to the operations board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission sank Thursday on a failed vote.

The issue was suggested by a Kandiyohi County Board member as an incentive to help attract volunteers willing to serve on the board.

Historically, members of the joint operations board, who come from the public at large and are nominated by the city and the county, haven’t been paid for either their time or their mileage. This is the first time the issue has even come up, according to Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.

The proposal was placed on the table as the EDC struggles to fill the last in a series of vacancies this year. Two positions were left open Jan. 1 with the departure of two board members who had served out their terms. Another vacancy arose in March when a third board member resigned.

Two of those positions are now filled but there’s still an opening for a board member to be appointed from the Fifth Commissioner District, which covers the southern half of Kandiyohi County.

Driving 20 to 25 miles one way to attend EDC meetings in Willmar could be seen as a barrier to prospective board members who live and work in some of the county’s outlying areas, Renquist said.

It’s not unusual for members of local governmental boards to be paid mileage when they participate in meetings, he said. “It wouldn’t be groundbreaking for us to do it.”

But the idea received a lukewarm reception from most of the operating board.

“We came on the board to give of our time,” said Bob Carlson. He said he doesn’t “see a need” for mileage reimbursement.”

A vote on the issue failed 4-1. Rollie Boll voted to support making a recommendation to the joint powers board, which would have had the final say. Carlson, Beverly Dougherty, Gary Gilman and Linda Kacher voted no.

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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