Ec Dev on the block?

By Geoff Lee

December 15, 2016 12:00 AM

The Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation has been placed on life support pending a decision by council on what its function and funding should be.
Council approved an interim 2017 budget on Monday with the future status of the LEDC as one of the outstanding budget items.
“What was built into the budget was a proposal to dissolve LEDC and bring it into the city and change the entire functionality of economic development,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
“What form economic development looks like in 2017, this council wants to ensure we present the best case for the best dollars spent.”
Maintaining the LEDC as an arm’s length corporation would require an 2.39 per cent tax increase to meet its grant request of $543,750 in 2017.
“We need to be to able to balance the budget; we need to be able to provide the services that the taxpayers want—and the LEDC is one of those wants and needs,” said Aalbers.
A city report identifies a greater potential for economic development by maintaining the service as a division within the city as a one person operation, but council wants to see a cost analysis of dismantling the corporation. 
“LEDC is in existence until a budget is approved and they may be in play after that budget, so don’t count them out and don’t count them in,” said Aalbers.
Coun. Stephanie Brown Munro wants to know if the city can get out of LEDC building lease and what that would cost before making a final budget decision.
She noted economic development is something the city needs to provide.
“I would like to see what they say if we go to them and say ‘this is how much we could give you ,what could you do with that,’” she said.
Coun. Michael Diachuk thought it was insensitive to suggest that work done by the LEDC’s four employees could be done by just one person.
“You need to be sensitive to the people involved and I think suggesting there was no reduction in service sent a message to the volunteers (on the LEDC board) who are a critical part of our community and we value them.”
LEDC CEO Ward Read was in council chambers during the budget discussion and realized dismantling the corporation would mean he would have to apply for the available position within the city.
“Possibly, yes, I understand that might be the case,” said Read.
“It’s not the best thing in the world obviously— I think that myself or anyone of my team are certainly very capable, very skilled and dedicate professionals.”
Read said he was pleased to hear council asking questions about the impact of dissolving the corporation.
“They are not taking the decision lightly and they are asking tough questions and not taking the decision lightly, and I certainly appreciate that,” he said.
Read said the best case certainly for the organization and for he and his staff would be to maintain the corporation, since all the same reasons that council in 2010 approved and created the structure, still hold true.
“I think with a new council leadership, we have in place here, if we have some really solid goals and objectives, then everything as far as our efforts, the directions, the work that we do and the dollars that we spend, can be very closely aligned and targeted,” said Read.

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