No decision made
Belleville council ponders increasing contribution to economic development
By Fred Arnold Telescope publisher
When the Republic County Economic Development corporation was founded in 1999 the City of Belleville contributed $26,000 toward their annual budget of $52,000. City leaders seeking to save money an feeling they could do their own economic development cut their annual pledge to RCED to $15,000.
Now the economic development group is asking that the city once again consider upping their annual contribution.
On Monday RCED staff member Luke Mahin spoke to members of the Belleville City Council asking for consideration of an increase in funding. He said similar requests are being made to the Republic County Commissioners as well as from the villages in the county.
“Our budget has not had an increase in over 15 years,” he said. “In fact it has went down from $52,000 to $42,000″”Mahin said RCED would ultimately like to see an annual budget of $55,000.
He said one of the goals of the RCED is to increase office hours from 27-30 hours a week to a full time status of 40 hours per week. Mahin added the group has been extremely busy in the last couple of years and there aren’t enough hours allotted to get everything done.
“We have produced some very good results recently including our business transition programs, housing studies and involvement in the ROZ Program,” Mahin said. “Plus our involvement in the continued expansion at Reinke Manufacturing and helping with the Love’s Truck Stop project has kept us very busy; we need more hours to do the things we need to and that is going to take a bigger budget.”
Belleville councilman Blaine Miller said he agrees that RCED has played a vital role in recent growth.
“One of the things I think about is the growth at Reinke and the new Love’s Truck Stop,” he said. “Those two businesses will only serve to stimulate growth and I would hate to see us miss out on any new opportunities.”
“We all know that economic development is a time consuming process,” Miller added. “It’s important I think for us to continue to support it, but we have to realize you don’t see results overnight.”
Council members did not make any recommendation as to what they might do, if anything, about increasing their contribution to RCED. But Mayor Tatum Couture closed the discus sion by saying, “We will sure look at the budget and try to work something in.”