County economic development group to get county funding
A countywide economic development committee won the formal support of county commissioners, who approved $825,000 over five years for a proposed economic development corporation operating under an independent countywide board.
The funding commitment will begin with the 2018 budget year.
County clerk Tina Spencer was instructed to review the budget to see if additional funds could be allocated from this year’s budget, but commissioners did not commit to a specific amount.
With $825,000 secured, the committee’s next step is to approach the county’s cities for commitments to complete the corporation’s formation.
The bylaws for Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation were already filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
“I really think we need to make a firm commitment to them for the next five years,” commissioner Dianne Novak said.
The bylaws give commissioners indirect influence over the corporation by granting them the right to appoint three of nine board members.
Task force member Roger Holter thanked the commission for approving funding and said a subcommittee has been formed to reach out to the towns seeking their agreements to support the corporation’s work.
Ambulance response time was reviewed by commission members after Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke contacted commission chair Randy Dallke about ambulances taking as long as 20 minutes to arrive when needed.
Emergency Medical Service director Ed Debesis said February was a difficult month for having enough responders to cover every shift. Ambulances have had to be called from other towns because crews weren’t available in Hillsboro.
Between 60 and 70 percent of day shifts were not adequately covered at Hillsboro and 40 percent of night shifts were not covered, Debesis said.
Hiring two full-time staff members would help resolve the problem, Debesis said. But if the county hires full-time staff, they need to find a place for staff members to stay while on duty. What’s available now will not be sufficient for them to sleep at night.
“My caution to the commission is, let’s not put people on without having somewhere to stay,” Dallke said.
Asked if Hillsboro could help with finding a place for staff to stay, Dalke said Hillsboro has always helped EMS where they can, but no one has asked for help.
Another area the commission is eyeing to speed up response time is establishing a centralized location for EMS service, so patients can be reached more timely than happens with an ambulance that must come from a different town.
“Canada may not be the most logical spot for a central location, but it is most central,” Dallke said.