Proposal would dissolve CHEDA, create City of Crookston Community Development Department

Finch says the move would save the City money; she says she hasn't been able to speak to Hoiseth about the proposal yet

Mike Christopherson

The Crookston City Council’s Monday, May 24 agenda includes resolutions that would be the first steps in the process of dissolving the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) and replacing it with a Community Development Department that would be under the City of Crookston umbrella.

    The Times spoke to City Administrator Amy Finch after the May 24 council meeting agenda was released to the media  and public Friday and she said she and City department heads and staff have been taking a “hard look” at the City operation’s overall structure, how it operates and where efficiencies could potentially be found. Replacing CHEDA with a Community Development Department would save the City money, she said. Asked if a specific dollar amount, in the form of savings, had been identified, Finch said more specific information like that would be part of the upcoming discussion involving the possible dissolution of CHEDA.

    Asked if CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth had been part of the discussions regarding CHEDA’s future and the movement toward a Community Development Department or if he was aware of what was being proposed, Finch said she was planning to make contact with Hoiseth today but hadn’t been able to reach him yet. The Times tried to contact Hoiseth but hadn’t been able to as of the writing of this story. The Times when calling the CHEDA office spoke to CHEDA staff member Tiffany Jones and asked if she knew about the resolutions on Monday’s council agenda and she said she was unaware of them or any proposal to dissolve CHEDA.

    Finch said, if the council eventually approves the dissolution of CHEDA and the creation of a Community Development Department, the City would conduct an external search for a director of the new department. Hoiseth would be welcome to apply for the position if he so wished, she said when asked about the future of his position.

    Monday’s council agenda includes two resolutions, each calling for public hearings relating to steps necessary to officially dissolve CHEDA. Both hearings would be held when the council next meets on Monday, June 14. The May 24 agenda also includes the introduction of an ordinance authorizing and creating a Community Development Department.

    Asked if a new Community Development Department would have a decision-making, appointed board similar to the CHEDA Board of Directors, Finch continued to stress that details and discussions at this point are preliminary, and they will get more detailed and in-depth as things progress. But, she added, she anticipates that a Community Development Department would likely have some sort of “advisory board” comprised of City staff and representatives of various sectors of the community, but not an “external board” in the vein of the current CHEDA Board.

    Several years ago, the City had a Community Development director on staff, when longtime building official Mike MacDonald moved into the role for a time before retiring. When he retired, the position wasn’t filled.

    Finch said potential money-saving opportunities and increased efficiencies have been identified in other City departments and discussions will continue on those fronts as well. The May 24 council agenda also includes a “restructure and operating efficiency update” from Finch.