City Council denies request for CHEDA accounting review

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston City Council denied a request from city staff at this week’s meeting for a financial accounting review of Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority. The council voted 4-3 against the resolution with Steve Erickson, Tom Vedbraaten, Dylane Klatt and Joe Kresl voting no and Kristie Jerde, Clayton Briggs and Don Cavalier voting yes. Council member Wayne Melbye was absent from the meeting.

    The resolution called for Abdo, Eick & Myers LLP to complete an accounting review and to provide a report of the findings and recommendations. Also in the resolution it cited that there was a new CHEDA board made up of seven City Council members and a new Community Development Director who also serves as the Executive Director of CHEDA, and the purpose of the review was to “better serve” the CHEDA board and City Council. The cost of the proposal was $13,000 and was within CHEDA’s budget which would have been sourced from the Valley Technology Park fund.

    A regular audit of CHEDA is completely annually, but the review would have allowed for a deeper look at specific items such as some of the grants that City Administrator Amy Finch says didn’t show up on the budget.

    The cost of the review was a concern for Ward 2 council member Steve Erickson who said they just paid $15,000 for the annual audit months ago and then to do a review for “advice” was kind of “extreme.” He also thought new Community Development Director/CHEDA Executive Director Robert Barnes should “get his feet wet” a little longer and then down the road could bring up the request again after potentially having a longer list of items for review or additional questions.

    Ward 6 council member Dylane Klatt felt the lack of competing bids for the accounting review was what led him to vote against the resolution plus asked if the review would cause additional stress on CHEDA staff that were “already taxed.” At-Large council member Tom Vedbraaten agreed saying he wonders about adding more to CHEDA Supervisor Theresa Tahran’s plate after seeing her staying and working late hours often.  

    Ward 1 council member Kristie Jerde felt that if it was the city staff’s professional opinion to have the review they should give them courtesy and help them and the board understand the process.