Commissioners, mayors meet to smooth out MCEDC debate

Less than a handful of officials attended the second of two special meetings with Marion County commissioners Tuesday, Oct. 20, regarding the structure of the Marion County Economic Development Council.

?We want to gauge your feelings,? Commissioner Dan Holub said about the meeting.

One concern Holub said he has is that MCEDC has not been moving forward following controversy over bylaw changes discussed at the July meeting with mayors.

A recurring question by some of the mayors, or their representatives, involved autonomy and whether MCEDC was self-governing or if committees within the council were sounding boards to the director, Teresa Huffman.

?The way we would like this to work,? Holub said, ?is for this to be MCEDC?s bailiwick.?

Other fallout regarding the question of the group?s autonomy occurred when four MCEDC members from Marion resigned, and talk of changing bylaws without following proper procedures surfaced.

Last week?s meeting was non-binding, but the commissioners wanted input.

?We need to get by this and have it settled one way or the other,? Holub said.

Peggy Jay, mayor of Goessel, spoke about the committee looking into the bylaws. At the first committee meeting, she said, the mayors wanted to see what the bylaws said.

At the second meeting, the committee didn?t want to change anything and by the third meeting the committee members got stuck on language?specifically whether MCEDC was autonomous.

Stacey Collett, who was chosen as Mayor Mary Olson?s representative for the meeting, said he wondered if any of the remaining MCEDC members talked to anyone who resigned.

?It?s not important what started all the bad feelings,? Holub said. What is important now is that the group is autonomous and whatever is voted on, the council will be accountable with that, he said.

The majority of bylaw changes did not meet with opposition from those attending.

When the issue of one town, one vote came up, though, some were not convinced this was the best way to change the bylaws.

Delores Dalke, mayor of Hillsboro, said that using that method would require seven communities to make a quorum.

In the 19 years she has been serving on the council, she said it is difficult to get that many towns together for a sustained period of time.

?We would be tying our hands to the point of being not effective,? Dalke said.

Initially, another member said, the idea of one town, one vote would be for only specific things like budget and minutes.

The commissioners want to see the bylaws go back to the members of the MCEDC.

?This is where the bylaws need to be decided,? Holub said.

The subject of a county chamber of commerce was also reviewed.

?A countywide chamber would help little towns with events and would not be town-specific,? Jay said.

For example, when Goessel holds its annual Threshing Days, anybody in the county willing to help could volunteer.

?This isn?t about competing with MCEDC,? Holub said, ?it?s a group that could pool people with certain talents to help other towns.?

Unlike a typical chamber of commerce, Marion County?s idea would be different.

Collett said it might be better received with a different name.

?I have no problem calling it a chamber of commerce,? Jay said. ?It?s just a matter of education and communication.?

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