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EDA needs more funds to survive

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By Robin Bass

City and county leaders were able to quickly agree on most aspects of their new interlocal agreement concerning EDA – even the part about each government contributing their fair share. What leaders hesitated on, however, was how much that contribution should be and where to find it in their budgets.

The questions arose Monday night while members of Spencer County Fiscal Court and Taylorsville City Commission were reviewing a contract to continue supporting the efforts of Taylorsville-Spencer County Economic Development Authority, Inc.(EDA).

With the combined city/county contribution of $48,000 planned for this fiscal year, “we can’t make it,” said EDA Chairman Dennis Eisenback. The organization would need $60,000 just to keep the office open and the lights on, he said, leaving little extra for much-needed training. Eisenback estimated that an annual budget of $70,000 to $80,000 would provide enough funds for EDA to be on their way to compete for businesses with economic development offices in surrounding counties.

Fiscal court recently passed their 2009 - 10 budget which provided $25,000 for EDA, plus another $3,000 to be used toward utilities. City commission approved last month to give EDA $20,000 this fiscal year with the contingency that none of the city funds be used toward rent.

EDA Executive Director Annette King said that when it comes to revenue, the organization is reliant on the generosity of the city and county governments.

“I can’t charge anyone for my time or services,” said King, of the hours she spends providing assistance to prospective business owners.

Magistrate John Riley said that he did not see the point of giving EDA just enough money to survive.

“What are we paying for? Just to keep the doors open? The goal should be more than just to keep the doors open,” said Riley. He added that if $80,000 is what it would take for the organization to be successful, then the city and county should make that commitment. In return, Riley said he would want to see a list of goals that EDA directors would like to accomplish and exactly how they planned to get there.

Magistrate Bill Drury suggested that a joint city/county meeting could help EDA in formulating some mutually-beneficial goals at a later date after the interlocal agreement was finalized.

Other changes made to the rough draft agreement were:

• for EDA to provide monthly minutes and detailed financial statements to fiscal court and the city commission, and

• to limit the number of magistrates and/or city commissioners appointed to the EDA board to “no more than one.”

The next joint meeting of city and county governments to discuss the EDA interlocal agreement has been tentatively scheduled for July 20 at 5 p.m. in city hall.