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EDC to seek $455K property tax levy

WILLMAR -- For the fourth year in a row, the property tax levy sought by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission will remain the same, at $455,000.

Members of the EDC joint powers board voted at their meeting Thursday to forward the levy request for ratification by the Willmar City Council and Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, said the agency is looking at a budget of $485,000 for 2011, an amount he said is "a very slight reduction" from this year's budget.

"In keeping with the very austere times we are all experiencing, it seemed to be the way to go," he said.

The EDC will likely have to dip into its undesignated fund, or reserve fund, next year, but Renquist said the fund should be ample.

The budget process will be starting in earnest next month. The EDC's property tax levy for 2011 must be submitted to the county auditor's office by mid-September.

A day-long retreat on Aug. 11 also has been scheduled to help set priorities and chart the course for the Economic Development Commission for the next five years.

In view of the EDC's healthy reserve fund, the agency should consider making some money available to assist businesses that need financial capital, suggested Harlan Madsen, a joint powers board member and Kandiyohi County Commissioner.

While there are pros and cons to providing tax-supported dollars to a private business, some type of structured program might be to the county's benefit, he said. "We do have that opportunity right now."

"Some counties, even in these times, are actually levying funds for this purpose," Renquist agreed.

Even a relatively small amount of money can make a difference for a business, he said. "It would be a good item to have in our toolbox."

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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