The Holcomb City Council responded favorably Wednesday to news of an increased budget request from the Finney County Economic Development Corp., a situation that has brewed frustration from the council in the past.
The vast majority of the FCEDC’s funding comes from annual dues from its four stakeholders — Finney County, the City of Garden City, the City of Holcomb and Garden City Community College — and the organization has requested more money from at least one of the stakeholders.
Despite cost-cutting measures, the FCEDC has for years relied on reserve funds to cover what the member dues would not cover. As those funds dwindled and the organization's services expanded, the budget requests have increased. Now that the funds have been depleted, the FCEDC has upped its budget requests to the four member organizations significantly.
Compared to the 2019 budget, the FCEDC has requested $50,000 more from Finney County, $60,000 more from Garden City, $5,000 more from Holcomb and $10,000 more from GCCC.
Last year, the Holcomb City Council delayed its contribution for months over principle — council members, and particularly Holcomb Mayor Brian Rupp, found the rate unfair considering Garden City’s payment in comparison. Rupp has long argued the payment should be determined on a per capita basis and be comparable to each city’s population.
Under the proposed funding breakdown, Finney County would provide 45 percent of the FCEDC’s funding, Garden City 43 percent, Holcomb 7 percent and GCCC 5 percent, FCEDC board chairman Tom Walker told the council Wednesday. He said the population of Garden City made up 93 percent of the population between the two cities and Holcomb made up 7 percent.
“I think with these increases that we’ve got for the city and the county now we have evened that out,” Walker said. “We’re getting there. We accomplished some of the things you wanted to see done. We hope you can recognize that.”
Walker and Lona DuVall, FCEDC president and CEO, walked through some of the FCEDC’s recent projects, as well as the history of the organization and stakeholders’ original, unfulfilled plans to establish some kind of sustainable funding for the FCEDC, such as a sales tax, in lieu of the annual payments. DuVall noted that the plans were discussed before Holcomb came on board.
She encouraged Rupp’s suggestion that the four stakeholders hold a joint meeting with the FCEDC in the near future. In general, Rupp and council members greeted the request with little concern.
“I do appreciate the fact that you aren’t asking us the same percentage of an increase that you were the City of Garden City and the county ... I appreciate from what I’m looking at representing the people Holcomb and trying to make it a fair expenditure to them,” Rupp said.
The council will formally consider the budget request at its budget workshop on June 19.
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