A joint meeting was called for MEDC and city council to bridge gaps, set goals and discuss branding. All council members were present, with MEDC having two members not present. Chad Bell had not been sworn in, and Stephen Granson was out of town and unable to attend. Mr. Granson is newly elected and has missed his first two meetings. The meeting was called to order and Mayor Martin spoke of working with MEDC years ago, when Probuild (now Hope Lumber) came to town and the city needed to provide infrastructure to accommodate the needs of Probuild. MEDC came forward worked with council and now Hope Lumber is a thriving business with sales tax revenue for the city. MEDC had the insight to use this newly found money to install infrastructure down Highway 6, which was nearly a two million dollar project.
While MEDC has worked to get infrastructure in the ground, there is still much to complete and without goals and guidance it will likely take longer than desired and could prove to be more costly. Manvel is approximately 40 sq. miles and infrastructure will likely continue to be a challenge for many years to come. As businesses are added to the area, increasing the tax revenue for the city, more projects can be completed. Councilman Hudson made the statement that cities take time and money to grow; laws, rules and regulation must be followed.
All members of council and MEDC agreed that goal setting was important. President Janice DeBello made it clear that while MEDC has had goals in the past. They were set primarily as applications were presented. After further discussion, all realized MEDC had been operating without guidance from council, which most likely added to their challenges.
With goals set at the beginning of each budget year, things like a strategic plan could have been more easily put in place, instead it has been merely a topic for at least a year. Simply a question of who may be hired and for how much with no further action. It has been suggested that it could cost upwards of $45,000 to have a strategic plan completed.
Councilman Gaspar discussed the hiring of a city planner and reminded everyone that it would be a topic of discussion at the upcoming retreat that council has planned for some time in April. The objective of the retreat is to set goals so that council has a direction and can help guide other city boards.
The city has had a comprehensive plan and in 2015 updated it. Citizen groups and individuals came forward and expressed what they desired to have in their city and as a result of all of that information the comprehensive plan was updated.
Cities budget is 6.9 million, MEDC’s budget is 651,000 of these funds the city and MEDC hope to use this money to get the most value. MEDC tracks the sales tax revenue every month. It is tracked so that budgets can be correctly made. It was agreed that working more with the city and their goals would be of benefit to all parties concerned.
Jason Albert asked council what direction did they want MEDC to go in over the next twelve months. Councilwoman Helm responded that they would have MEDC go over the comprehensive plan and it would help guide them in the right direction. Councilman Gaspar suggested that hold meetings with the community to have input from residents.
Council was reminded that all MEDC projects come through council for approval. Council agreed with MEDC to hold future joint meetings.
Story by Terry Ruiz