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Kari Lucin, Forum Communications, Published December 18 2012

Stutsman County gives economic development group more time, money

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Stutsman County will continue to pay dues to the South Central Dakota Regional Council – at least for the first quarter of 2013.

Before that time expires, the Stutsman County Commission will reevaluate the economic development group’s progress and decide whether to remain a dues-paying member, the commission decided Tuesday.

“Are we getting our money’s worth out of this?” asked Commissioner Dennis Ova Tuesday.

In October, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. executive board recommended dropping membership in the South Central Dakota Regional Council, only to reverse the action in November.

Earlier this month, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. followed the second recommendation of its executive board, voting to recommend that Stutsman County and the city of Jamestown remain members of the council, which also includes Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh and Wells counties.

Jamestown and Stutsman County together pay $32,000 in annual dues, which allows residents access to use the council’s economic development programs.

Stutsman County already had budgeted dues for 2013.

“There needs to be some way to verify that things are getting done,” said Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer. “We want to make sure that what we’re spending is returning results for the community.”

Deb Kantrud, South Central Dakota Regional Council executive director, told commissioners that Stutsman County and Jamestown receive more than 50 percent of every program the organization offers.

Commissioner Craig Neys said he felt like Kantrud had tried to make the commission look bad for simply wanting answers about what the regional council does for the county that justifies its dues.

“You get paid $84,400 a year. That’s a pretty good job in Stutsman County, wouldn’t you say? There’s not a lot of people here who make that kind of money and get the results you’re getting,” Neys added.

He also criticized the regional council’s meetings, describing them by saying “you drag all the people in there, pay them mileage, feed them, we walk out of meetings every time and what has been accomplished? … Everybody, they put their hands out. This free money is going to go away.”

Neys said in an interview after the meeting that groups requesting federal grant money at the meetings do not want to take initiative on their own, but want money from Washington, D.C.

“I don’t see why Stutsman County has to worry about what’s going on in Wells County and Barnes County. … we’re paying the biggest percentage of the dues,” Neys said, adding that most of what the regional council does for the county, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. could do instead.

The commission unanimously voted to fund the county’s membership in the regional council for January, February and March – the county’s first fiscal quarter of 2013. In March, the commission will re-evaluate its membership.

Kari Lucin writes for the Jamestown Sun

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