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  • Last modified 23 days ago (Nov. 23, 2017)

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Council overrules mayor on appointment

Staff writer

Three Marion city council members rejected Mayor Todd Heitschmidt’s recommendation Monday to delay appointing Darin Neufeld as representative to the board of the county’s new beleaguered economic development corporation.

Councilman Chris Costello broached the subject by saying the city needs to decide whether it will appoint representatives.

“The corporation is reorganizing,” Costello said. “We put our money into this thing.”

Heitschmidt said the corporation was not living up to expectations and he’d rather have the discussion after an upcoming corporation stakeholder meeting planned for Nov. 27.

“I’m not even sure it’s going to exist after the 27th,” Heitschmidt said.

Councilwoman Melissa Mermis said she was uncertain, as many changes had taken place with the corporation.

The corporation’s original bylaws ruled out board representatives who are employees of member governments. Hillsboro and Marion disagreed with that.

Bylaws were amended to permit employee appointments to the board. Marion city administrator Roger Holter was appointed to the permanent board.

Then the corporation attorney, Joshua Boehm, said he did not believe the bylaw change met legal criteria, so the rules reverted back as originally written, disqualifying Holter.

Costello said he thinks the corporation would be good for the county and he’d like to find people to appoint.

Councilman John Wheeler said he has talked with a possible representative and that person has expressed the opinion that the corporation might be political. The corporation will be more political than the city council, Wheeler said.

“I’d love to see it work but I think there’s some strings that are going to be pulled to make it work,” Wheeler said.

Corporation board member Tammy Ensey said the sole purpose of the upcoming meeting is to give an update.

“We still have the same bylaws that we started with,” Ensey said.

Ensey said Hillsboro has not moved forward on appointing representatives to the corporation board, but she has been assured they will buy in. That would leave Marion as the only entity to back out of membership, Ensey said.

“That’s disappointing. Very disappointing,” Ensey said. “We’ve been operating on the assumption since August that you guys were not going to seat someone on the board.”

Heitschmidt said he’s concerned about the idea of the board having no representatives who work in economic development. He also said he dislikes the idea of Marion, Hillsboro and Peabody “doubling up on taxation” for economic development.

Ensey addressed Heitschmidt’s concern about board members not being experts on economic development.

“That’s why you hire a director,” Ensey said. “I do believe in it, I do believe we’ve had results.”

Board member Russell Groves said the corporation has made mistakes, but not with bad intentions.

“It’s a start-up board, it’s a start-up corporation,” Groves said.

Marion resident Max Ewert voiced support for the corporation.

“We need to get something going or we’re going to die,” Ewert said.

Costello’s motion to appoint Neufeld to the corporation board passed three to one, with Wheeler, Costello, and Mermis in favor and Heitschmidt opposed. Councilman Jerry Kline was absent Monday.

Last modified Nov. 23, 2017

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