• Last modified 1119 days ago (Jan. 3, 2018)


Cities refuse to pay development dues

Each wants different standards for directors

Staff writer

Two cities, five days apart, have declined to pay 2018 dues to a countywide economic development group.

Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation sent a $25,000 invoice to Peabody and a $45,000 invoice to Marion, hoping to get membership payments this month.

For different reasons, both cities declined.

At the heart of the matter is that when the group started it had a rule that no government employee or elected officials could serve on its board.

Under those rules, Peabody agreed to become a member.

Marion also agreed to join. However, Marion wanted city administrator Roger Holter on the board.

Faced with the prospect of Marion pulling out, the organization changed its rules so Holter could serve.

Hillsboro also voted to provide funding to the corporation as long as it could appoint board members who are elected officials or city employees.

That was enough to make Peabody question its commitment, since the “no employees or elected officials” rule was a strong factor in its decision to join.

After review by the corporation’s lawyer, the rules reverted to the earlier version, banning officials and employees.

A month ago, the group promised Marion, Peabody, and Hillsboro that any questions they had would be answered. All they had to do was submit the questions.

Marion city council members on Tuesday discussed the economic development group’s invoice.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt asked Holter if he had received answers to questions the city sent the group.

“I have not received any response to the questions we submitted to the corporation,” Holter said.

The question of whether to pay the group died for lack of a motion.

In Peabody, meanwhile, council member Mike Reynolds said at a meeting Thursday that he wanted to see the organization’s bylaws to be sure the rules were the same as when Peabody committed to join.

“I wish they would get their ducks in a row before we give them any money,” Reynolds said.

As Marion did five days later, Peabody decided not to pay until after the question is resolved.

Hillsboro city council did not discuss its bill from the development group during its meeting Tuesday night.

Last modified Jan. 3, 2018