The Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development received its funding for the 2016 fiscal year from the Hays City Commission on Thursday, but it comes with caution.
Before the commission voted 4-1 to approve giving the Economic Development their $87,550 funding, commissioner Henry Schwaller IV asked that a motion be made that they instead receive half of the funding pending a report from the coalition until at least the end of May. The motion to give the coalition half at this time was rejected by a 3-2 vote.
Frustrated with the coalition, part of Schwaller’s reason behind the motion that half be released now, was the commission had not heard a plan by the end of December the city’s five-member board had asked the coalition to present in July and August. The Jan. 7 work session was the commissioner’s first time to hear a plan that was presented by the county’s Economic Development Executive Director Aaron White. Before the commission asked that a plan be presented by the end of December, Schwaller and commissioner Lance Jones mentioned talks that had been had to pull the funding.
“The funding was contingent upon (the Coalition of Economic Development) establishing a plan, sharing that with us and presenting it to us by the end of December. They did not present it to us by the end of December,” Schwaller said. “They tried to blame the City Manager (Toby Dougherty) for that, but they never approached us at any time. There is no plan. I served on the coalition board at that time.
“All of the things that were shared with us last week, other than the concept, for providing a succession planning for northwest Kansas are the same projects that the coalition has done for as long as I’ve served on this body since 1999.”
Jones said he has no problem giving half the funds at this time, but said that communication in the last few weeks has been better between the commission and White and the coalition.
“I would like a more regular update than what we have had,” Jones said. “I’m happy with either way, if we fund them completely or if we hold on to half of it. I am happy with the communication that has been made and the strides.”
Vice Mayor Shaun Musil was in favor of giving the coalition all of its funding now. He told the other commissioners until they have a better plan than the coalition, then they should back off and them do their job. Musil did say though if things don’t get better, pulling the funds could be in the best interest.
“If they’re not doing their job — then I get it, take their funding away,” Musil said. “But, we don’t have a better plan and we have to have a development in this community. If we don’t guys, we’re just going to go away. It’s not a good culmination. I think the way we’re acting and what we’re doing is just a huge mistake.”
The commission work session for Jan. 21 and meeting Jan. 28 have been canceled because of a lack of agenda items to be reviewed.