Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2001

Chamber takes charge of economic development

January 11, 2001

A year after the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce first made the request, the DeSoto City Council has agreed to turn the city's economic development efforts over to the organization.

Last Thursday, the city council unanimously voted to dissolve appointments to the DeSoto Economic Development Commission and to place Economic Development Director Marge Morse under the direction of the Chamber's Economic Development Council. It also agreed to fund the organization with monthly payments that will total $25,000 a year.

Atchison first asked the council to join the Chamber in creating the DeSoto Economic Council last January. She made the request as the DeSoto Economic Development Corporation neared the end of its funding source payments Sealright agreed to make to the city after the company was unable to meet the conditions of a tax abatement agreement.

Although council members agreed the Chamber should ultimately be responsible for DeSoto's economic development efforts, it was unwilling to grant Atchison's request last January. Instead, it started the DeSoto Economic Development Commission under the supervision of City Administrator Gerald Cooper.

Meanwhile, Atchison has been working on the bylaws that will govern the Chamber's economic development council. The Chamber has also applied with the state for 501(c) status for the Economic Development Council.

The city will still have a hand in the direction of the city's economic development. The mayor, a city council member and the city administrator will serve on the Economic Development Council Board of Directors.

Thirteen Chamber members have agreed to invest in memberships to the Economic Development Council, Atchison said. The city council actions will help in that effort, she said.

"I didn't even send out mailings announcing the investment until Monday," Atchison said. "We feel with the manpower we can provide combined with what the city can contribute, we can accomplish a lot. There has been a great deal accomplished this year."

The city council approved a findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the recent annexation agreement that made Hunt Midwest Mining Inc.'s Sunflower Quarry part of the city.

When the council authorized the mayor to enter into an annexation agreement with Hunt Midwest in November, it made the action contingent on approving a finding of facts and conclusions of law prepared by City Attorney Patrick Reavey.

That document was approved last Thursday, but not without the comment and controversy that has been a part of the annexation since it was first proposed last August.

Reavey began discussion on the findings-and-conclusions document when he told council members he was presenting the a draft document under attorney-client privilege in executive session. If the council agreed to the draft, it could then return to open session to discuss and vote on the document, he said.

When the council returned to open session and prepared to vote on Reavey's document, Darrell Zimmerman rose from the audience to ask that the public be allowed to review a document that had never been made public.

However, Councilman John Taylor said Zimmerman was out of order.

Zimmerman was allowed to make a point or order before the final vote on the annexation agreement in November, a development the council has since discussed. It was agreed the council allows the public to discuss issues during the public comment period at the start of council meetings and during hearings regarding issues, but not during final council deliberations.

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