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Park Rapids City Council approves increase to 2010 budget

The Park Rapids City Council approved the 2010 general fund budget with an extra $5,000 for economic development.

Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission executive director David Collins requested the city give an extra $10,000 in funding for 2010.

The HCREDC is asking for $40,000 in 2010, up from $30,000. The city has paid $30,000 to the entity for the past three years.

Hubbard County also contributes to the HCREDC and the rest of the budget comes from private donations.

County commissioners haven't made a decision to increase the county's contribution but are looking at a budget with a 0 percent increase.

Collins attended a council meeting in October and said that many of the benefits of his department are intangible.

He is working on creating more entrepreneurial opportunities and hopes to bring in money through a Small Cities Development Grant.

Other HCREDC supporters spoke on behalf of the commission.

City staff recommended denying the HCREDC request for increased funding and approve the proposed 2010 general fund budget as presented.

City administrator Bill Smith reminded the council of the city's financial situation.

"If the council tonight decides to fund $10,000 or some portion thereof, we'll have to go back and look at our budget again and I'm not sure where we'll find that money," he said.

Mayor Nancy Carroll asked what would happen if the $10,000 cannot be found in the proposed budget. She asked if the liquor store reserves were a possibility.

"Just as a matter of information, last year we transferred $231,000 out of liquor store reserves," Smith said. "Every year we take out about $100,000 out of liquor store for the airport, we took out $50,000 or $70,000 last year to finish up our general fund budget because of the unexpected unallotment. We're expecting to be short again this year, we expect tax receipts will be low.

"So, there's plenty of demand on the liquor store reserves. I know that's the one source that's readily available but we do rely on it pretty heavily."

Nancy, "There are a lot of uncertainties in future funding from our state and our local taxes.

Sharon Voyda, with the HRA of Park Rapids, asked what the process was for nonprofits requesting funding from the city. Smith said that any organization out there interested in city funding should get a request in by August for the next year.

"It's a struggle of how do you pay for it. They (the HCREDC) do good things, I would like to see increased funding, but at the same time, we have to be able to pay for it," said councilman Paul Utke. "So that's where I'm juggling the balls right now."

Councilwoman Sue Tomte suggested giving the commission an extra $5,000 instead of $10,000. She asked Smith if it was possible to get that money out of liquor store reserves.

"It's not a question of can we get $10,000, we can. It's what's the alternative you're giving up," Smith said.

"What are we taking from to do this and what's more important," Utke said.

"I think that at this time economic development is very important," Carroll said.

Councilman Pat Mikesh said he wasn't in favor of the increase.

"I'm afraid we'll cut ourselves short," he said.

Other departments had to cut their budgets, he added.

Councilman Dave Konshok said that the HCREDC is important to support right now.

"I definitely think we're getting something out of it," he said.

Tomte made a motion to increase the HCREDC funding to $35,000. The motion passed, with Mikesh opposing.