Carlton County halts grants through economic development departmentTo get a solid handle on the Carlton County Economic Development department financial situation, Carlton County commissioners unanimously approved a moratorium on new grant funding at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
To get a solid handle on the Carlton County Economic Development department financial situation, Carlton County commissioners unanimously approved a moratorium on new grant funding at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
“We need to take a brief time-out and review how the county wants to fund the [economic development] department,” said Pat Oman, director of the department, who asked for the suspension.
The moratorium will not eliminate any of the grant opportunities already in process for 2008 and those will be awarded on a usual schedule.
The grant funds, which comes from the Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Agency via a surcharge on trains running taconite through the county, brings in about $300,000 per year. The money has been used in the past 10-15 years to pay county debt service and fund grants for improvements in Carlton County communities. Since the economic development department was created in 2005, it has funded its operation as well.
“This department is the only one in the county that doesn’t levy taxpayers – which is a good thing,” Oman said. “We just want to make sure this fund becomes a long-term self-sustaining one and figure out how we’re going to pay for the department’s costs going forward.”
Currently, the fund holds a little over $1 million dollars, so it’s not in dire straights, which makes it a good time to revisit how it is managed, Oman said.
Commissioners made sure they could reverse the moratorium at any time, which they can, before approving the measure. Loans from the fund may still be available.
“We are lucky to have this money,” Oman said. “Not all counties have it.”