In response to the recent letter to the editor in the Crookston Times by Tim Denney, I’d like to address a couple things about the council voting to give CHEDA (Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority) $350,000 for future economic development and housing initiatives.

    First of all, CHEDA was the only recipient of $350,000 at the October 22 meeting of the Ways & Means Committee. There were no other “outside organizations.” CHEDA is funded by the city with an executive director and a board of directors who look at investment opportunities in economic development and housing, and they’re charged with job creation and expanding the tax base within the city. Second, we did not take that money out of the emergency reserves. After the vote passed 6-3 on October 22, it will be taken out of the city’s 2019 budget from the city’s reserves.  It will impact the 2019 budget, but will not be a recurring investment.

    Speaking of that vote, city councilmen Stainbrook, Regan and Briggs voted against giving CHEDA the one-time funding. Stainbrook is currently the ex-officio for the CHEDA board and should have been aware of the funding’s intentions, and could have better informed the council, and should have thought twice about voting against the money that would go to fund future taxpayer investments.

    We have people on the city council who voted against giving CHEDA money and we have councilmen who are running for mayor that voted against funding future economic development. The recent Manufacturer’s Week presented an opportunity to listen to concerns about workforce development from our bigger businesses and we only had one of the mayoral candidates, Dean Adams, attend. Our number one priority is our businesses. If we don’t support them, what is Crookston’s future?

    CHEDA’s monthly meeting, which we have never seen you, Tim, attend, discusses some of the potential investment opportunities like growing the housing rehab program, addressing the child care crisis and workforce development. CHEDA’s director, Craig Hoiseth, does have a project wish list and his door is open for anyone to ask about what he’s doing for the city. He also has a smart board of directors that carefully oversees CHEDA’s spending each month and they look at each project and want to see Crookston expand and be successful now and in the future.

    Tim: From a business point of view, wouldn’t you want your money spent on anything to help businesses and grow our workforce development? Where should our priorities lie?

Bobby Baird
At Large Crookston City Council member