Galstad’s statement read at Monday’s Ways & Means Committee meeting

    If an update Monday evening from the East Grand Forks city attorney looking into the Crookston Chamber and Convention & Visitors Bureau funding/budget saga is any indication, a resolution to the matter is not immediately imminent.

    East Grand Forks City Attorney Ron Galstad is looking into the matter because Stephen Larson, an attorney with the City of Crookston city attorney’s office, Odland, Fitzgerald, Harbott, Knutson & Larson, PLLP, sits on the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

    Near the conclusion of Monday night’s Crookston City Council Ways & Means Committee meeting, City Finance Director Angel Weasner read a statement given to her by Galstad, in which indicated that he continues to review documents and bring himself up to speed on the operations of the Chamber, CVB, and how those operations relate to the City.

    Galstad’s probe stems from Crookston Chamber and CVB Board members, and council members who are ex-officios, discovering, in late October, that the “CVB Administrative Fee” on the Chamber’s budget spreadsheet says 20 percent of gross lodging taxes are being withdrawn as opposed to the 15 percent that is currently under contact. The present contract dates back to 2006. At-Large Council Member Bobby Baird reached out to the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota State Auditor’s Office for guidance after the discovery was made. He says, according to state statute 609.456 Reporting to State Auditor and Legislative Auditor Required, that he is obligated, as a public employee, to report it.

    In the statement Weasner read Monday and provided to the Times afterward, Galstad indicated that he’s casting a wide net as he researches the matter.

    “Additionally, I am looking into how the entities conduct their business, how the increase was justified, and how it was brought forward for approval,” Galstad’s statement reads. “I am trying to get a better understanding (of) how the agreement came into place, who was involved with drafting the agreement, and once I understand the process I will render a legal opinion on how to resolve the issue and (if) there was anything inappropriate or malicious involve or whether it appeared to be an oversight to increase the amount without written approval.”