Baird wonders why an outside organization is retained to use 'Crookston money'

    The Crookston City Council voted Wednesday to pass a resolution to transfer money from the Small Cities Development Program fund to the Northwest Multi County Housing & Redevelopment Authority in Mentor, but not without some discussion on why the city is working with an organization outside of Crookston.

    At-Large Council Member Bobby Baird first asked to remove the resolution from the consent agenda to inquire why they were hiring someone from Mentor and not using city or local staff when they’re using “Crookston money.” City Administrator Shannon Stassen explained that every SCDP grant he has worked on has been with the NW Multi-County HRA.

    “They help us write the grant, they help us get the grant, they help us seek out the letters of intent to bolster the grant, they help distribute it because this is what they do,” relayed Stassen. “Multi-County has always handled this program for us and they do a nice job.”

    Current Ward 6 Council Member and 2019 At-Large Council Member Tom Vedbraaten then asked Stassen if “our people” (meaning city or local staff) were qualified to do it (handle the grant) to which Stassen replied with, “No, not at all.”

    Baird asked Vedbraaten to repeat the question and Vedbraaten reiterated that he wanted to know if the people that “we have” were qualified to do this.

    “They’re not qualified to do it?” asked Baird.

    “Apparently, I don’t know, I thought they were but he says they’re not,” answered Vedbraaten.

    “I don’t know of an example where they did anything like this, this is something that Multi-County specializes in,” Stassen defended. “It’s a pretty extensive grant to write.”

    “John Scheving, Joan Abercrombie and myself spent a lot of time,” he continued. “We were turned down the first time, but it’s a lot of work just getting this. It’s a lot of feet on the street talking to people, getting them to fill out letters of intent, and there’s a ton of stuff with lead, and stuff with historical stuff.”

    Outgoing At-Large Council Member Bob Quanrud added, “These are the people you need to go to get this stuff done.”

    Vedbraaten asked how much of the $20,000 that Multi-County HRA will receive from the transfer would they charge for an administrative fee with “so much to do” to which Stassen answered 15 percent, a standard.

    “They handle the one in Thief River Falls, Red Lake Falls, they handle all this work in this region,” Stassen finished.