MCEDC bylaws move toward board

A proposed set of bylaws was made public Wednesday at the Marion County Economic Development Council meeting with several changes introduced.

One major change would be to incorporate a chairperson elected by the full council. The chairperson, according to the revised bylaws, would preside at all meetings.

Currently, the economic development director presides over the meetings, prepares and distributes agendas, assists committee chairs and provides information to the entire group.

Prior to the bylaw committee reviewing the information, many of the proposed changes were initiated in June 2009 by MCEDC director Teresa Huffman.

At Wednesday?s meeting, those revisions were either removed, re-revised or returned to their original language.

When Huffman first introduced revisions without the assistance of a review committee, four representatives from the city of Marion resigned.

A few other members said they believed any changes in the bylaws originating from the director were not in accordance with proper procedures.

Yet other members saw no problem with the director making revisions because the document would need approval by the entire council.

Among the changes Huffman wanted to see discussed involved membership voting from a population base to one vote for one town; additional language requiring members assist at trade shows and the director?s ability to recruit members.

Although some changes will still require further refinement, said Larry Paine, chairman of the bylaw committee, he reviewed the newest changes with the council members.

The current bylaw committee includes Paine of Hillsboro; Peggy Jay of Goessel and Shane Marler of Peabody.

Other members, Doug Kjellin resigned from the council months earlier and Greg Winn of Florence was removed for absenteeism at Wednesday?s meeting.

Winn and Mac Manning were both dismissed under the current bylaws at last week?s meeting. However, in the revised version, chronic absenteeism has been eliminated.

Another portion of the bylaws eliminated the director?s ability to recruit up to two volunteers from each community in the event a mayor does not choose to appoint one or more persons.

The bylaw committee also eliminated the director?s recommendation to require members on committees to assist (on some level) at various trade shows or festivals.

Following review of the tentative bylaws, Commissioner Dan Holub offered his input.

The bylaws basically follow what is needed to be done.

?This council is critical to Marion County,? he said, ?and times are getting tight and we need to stop fighting over a piece of paper.

?All (the commissioners) want to see is accountability, where (the county) is going and what we are trying to accomplish (in economic development).?

The commissioners are not wanting to micromanage this council, he said.

Holub also discussed the budget process, volunteer help and working for the betterment of the county as a whole.

?I think this council needs to be represented every July and August in the budget process,? he said.

Money for the council is not necessarily going to remain the same from year to year.

Another issue involves participation.

?Teresa got chewed out for all her overtime,? he said.

Holub said she worked at a lawn and garden show and travel show, both outside of Marion County.

Huffman cannot take comp time because she needs to be available, leaving the only other viable option being that MCEDC members participate more in these shows, Holub said.

Lastly, he spoke about how a few cities in the county have an economic development director, but when they serve on this council, the focus should be to serve the county first.

Holub cited an incident several years ago involving a gentleman from a smaller community asking MCEDC for help after a company approached him about buying his building.

?After all was said and done,? he said, ?we had two towns with an empty building in each of them, costing the county 25 to 30 jobs.?

Some of the MCEDC members wanted to have the company buy a building in their town rather than from the gentleman who was asking for guidance.

?What happened was way wrong,? Holub said. ?We lost jobs, it cost all the communities money, and I am not sure if this could be put in the bylaws, but it?s touchy with me.?

Holub said that none of the people involved in the incident he spoke of are involved with MCEDC now and it was before Huffman was hired.

Paine said the bylaws committee will need at least one more session to work through the revisions.

He also asked members read, analyze and determine if the bylaws accurately reflect what the council wants.

?We don?t want this to take forever,? Paine said, ?but good conscious analysis is needed.?

Paine and the committee are looking at a June or July date to submit the revisions for approval by the entire council.


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