City Administrator Amy Finch provides more info on CHEDA dissolution proposal

Times Report
Crookston Times

Crookston City Administrator Amy Finch sent a release to the media Thursday morning that answers some of the common questions that have been brought up about the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority dissolution proposal, plus announces hard copy surveys will be available to the community and delivered upon request with a postmark deadline of June 9. Finch said, as of Wednesday (June 2), 417 total responses have been received. 

"This is awesome, but let's do even better than that!" she said as she detailed that hard copy surveys will be available upon request through June 7 and will be delivered in a prepaid envelope. There will be one survey per person and surveys are due by June 9 with online submission by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 9 and mailed copies postmarked by June 9. A locked drop box will be available at City Hall for drop off as well with drop-offs due by 4:30 p.m. on June 9.

The survey can also be found on the City of Crookston's Facebook page or at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CityofCrookston

"It is also important to note that there are many questions circulating throughout the community after the latest City Council meeting and I want to address the most common questions I have heard below," said Finch in the media release. "The questions and answers below are aligned with the proposal made to the City Council and assume the passing of each recommendation."

"Please come and voice your concerns, questions, or thoughts at the public hearings scheduled for the Monday 06/14/2021 City Council meeting held at the Crookston High School auditorium," she added.

Q&A FROM THE CITY

Q: Is the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) going away if the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) is dissolved?

A: No, the proposal includes the dissolution of CHEDA, transferring economic development duties under the City as the Community Development Department, and the re-establishment of the HRA.

Q: Will tenants using services and housing provided through the HRA (currently administered through CHEDA) lose access to services and / or housing?

A: No. The intent is to continue to offer uninterrupted services without lessening the quality of services offered.

Q: Will Oak Court residents who pay June rent be able to prove payment and avoid eviction in July if the HRA is under new authority?

A: An issue with payment records is not anticipated and records should remain intact and transfer under the new authority. As with any payments made, we encourage residents to obtain a receipt for payment.

Q. Will the current CHEDA Executive Director assume the Community Development Director position?

A. Not automatically. Economic Development is vital to the success of a community and an external search would be undertaken in which any qualified candidate would be encouraged to apply.

Q: Will the current housing staff retain their positions?

A: The proposal does not address this at the current time. Once a new HRA board is seated, this issue would be reviewed and a decision would be made at that time. It will be the recommendation to once again have the housing staff office out of Oak Court to be readily available to tenants and to improve the service provided.

Q: Will Oak Court close, leaving current residents without housing?

A: No. The proposal is to re-establish the HRA as an independent entity to serve our housing needs in the community. City leaders would never suggest the displacement of tenants residing in housing offered through the HRA.

Q: Who did the City Administrator talk to and work with to develop this proposal?

A: The City Administrator sought the assistance of the City Attorney to review Minnesota statutes and relied on previous experience working for a City that housed the city’s economic development functions under the Community Development Department of the city.

Q: Why?

A: In my time here, I have made it a priority to understand processes and look for ways to be more efficient and provide better service to our community. The structure of the current economic development function is inefficient, has gaps in communication and information, and duplicates efforts on several fronts. A more in-depth presentation will be provided at the City Council meeting on Monday 06/14/2021 held at the Crookston High School auditorium.

"In conclusion, I do recognize change can be uncomfortable and even scary at times. I am once again pleading to you, citizens, Councilmembers, interested parties, to let me know when you have concerns," Finch finalized. "I am here to work for you and to provide clarification, answers to your questions, hear your concerns and ideas. Please reach out to me or your council person at any time so we can help address your issues.

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