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EDC approves 2013 budget; spending and revenue remain flat

WILLMAR -- Governing board members of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission voted Thursday to adopt a 2013 budget that's virtually unchanged from this year.

The budget calls for spending $506,707 next year on programs and staffing, and taking in the same amount in revenue.

The bulk of the revenue -- $455,000 -- comes from the property tax levy, which has remained flat since the 2010 budget.

It's an austere budget that leaves little to spare, said Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.

"We'll probably spend the majority of our budget this year," he said.

Even without adding any new programs, it's becoming increasingly challenging to meet the organization's fiscal needs and manage rising costs, Renquist said. "Each year we haven't increased the budget, it gets a little tougher."

The 2013 budget includes a supplement of $40,000 from the EDC's reserve fund.

This year's budget also is being supplemented with reserves, Renquist said. "We've tried to be frugal with our dollars. So far we've never had to actually dip into those dollars. I'm thinking this year may be the year we do."

A 1.5 percent pay raise is scheduled next year for the Economic Development Commission's two staff members. But in most other categories, few changes in spending are projected.

The EDC is continuing to budget for a third full-time staff position, an agriculture and renewable energy specialist. The post is vacant right now following the previous staff person's resignation in August.

Members of the governing board concurred Thursday with a recommendation from the EDC Joint Operations Board to fill the position as soon as possible -- but the new hire will be half time, at least to start with, with the possibility of going to full time depending on qualifications and job performance.

The EDC also is discontinuing the office space that was rented on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar for the ag and renewable energy specialist. In a money-saving move, the position will be moved back to the EDC main office in downtown Willmar.

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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