The Finney County Economic Development Corp. adopted a 2016 budget on Wednesday that includes a request for more dollars from its partners to help operate the organization.
FCEDC is funded by Garden City, Holcomb, Finney County and Garden City Community College.
FCEDC received $255,750 this year and will receive the same in 2015. In 2016, FCEDC will ask the partners for an increase in funding to $315,200.
The request for Garden City is for $125,000, an increase of $20,000; $25,000 from Holcomb, an increase of $10,000; $150,000 from Finney County, a $30,000 increase; and $15,000 from GCCC, which is the same amount budgeted in 2015.
Board member Bob Kreutzer said the increase is needed to offset dwindling reserves and cash carryover.
Each year, he said, economic development has had to use its reserves to make budget. The amount available in cash carryover is steadily dropping, and FCEDC estimates that by the end of 2016, it will have no reserves left.
The cash reserve balance has gone from $205,909 in 2014 to an $85,962 projected carryover into 2015. FCEDC is projected to have just $22,587 available in cash carryover heading into 2016.
“There’s a lot of good things coming out of this organization, but we have to be a business also. We’re projecting a budget. The dollars we’ve been receiving are in the $300,000 range, and it costs $400,000 to do the things we do. Sooner or later, you’ve got to pay the bill,” Kreutzer said.
The 2016 budget includes anticipated expenses in 2016 of $411,400, with projected income of $292,612. The organization plans to add one staff person in 2016. Kreutzer noted that less than half of overall expenses are spent on administration.
“We’ve got a job we’ve got to do, and we’ve got to continue to do it. I think the concept we’ve found is operation-wise, we’ve done a great job of holding the line in terms of the monies we’ve been expending.
“But ... there’s only so much we’re getting done because we’re locked by the hours we have available for staff,” Kreutzer said.
Right now, Kreutzer said, economic development must trust its partners to come forward with dollars to fill the gap in case something comes up that is over and above the amount of money left in the budget. But the organization continues to look for a longer term solution to its funding needs.
“Sooner or later, bottom line, we’re going to have to find an alternative funding source,” Kreutzer said.
Economic development has been searching for alternative funding sources for several years. It most recently looked at the possibility of using a portion of transient guest taxes collected by hoteliers from overnight guests, but a deal was never worked out.
Kreutzer said FCEDC’s partners provide a fixed amount of funding that has been relatively stable for several years. Each year, the organization asks for a little more, but often gets lumped in with other organizational requests and gets cut.
FCEDC Chairman Tom Walker agreed that at some point, a decision will need to be made about future funding, but noted FCEDC’s partners have stepped up in the past when projects have come forward.
“Our partners have been real supportive, and I’m sure they’ll continue to be supportive. But as these projects grow and some other things come into play, it sure would be nice to have reserves to fall back on. It’s just gradually over the years dwindled,” Walker said. “The good part of this is when we have a project or a need for funding on special occasions or whatever, our partners have stepped up.”
In other business Wednesday:
• In her monthly report, FCEDC President Lona DuVall reported that economic development continues to work on bringing a multinational, industrial prospect to the county. She said the prospect will require significant permitting, and work has been proceeding non-stop through those steps. She said she feels comfortable about progress in attracting the prospect.
The FCEDC doesn’t release identifying details about prospects to protect confidentiality.
DuVall said another prospect, a manufacturer, visited last month and was sent additional information over the weekend. She believes FCEDC will hear something from the prospect before the end of the year.
Regarding the Holcomb retail project, DuVall said site plans are nearing completion, and they involve a large truck and travel plaza. Infrastructure work could begin early next year.
• The board learned DuVall was elected president of wKREDA for 2015 at the organization’s Dec. 3 quarterly meeting in Russell. The western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance is composed of 55 western Kansas counties that collaborate on economic development issues.