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News :: BDG leaders, supervisors to continue future funding discussion
· 12:24pm March 14th, 2013
After meeting with the Benton County Supervisors on Tuesday morning, the Benton Development Group plans two more meetings to discuss the future of its funding. About 20 people attended the meeting to tell the supervisors how important the organization and its continued funding is to BentonCounty.
The Supervisors reduced the funding for Benton Development Group from $47,000 this budget year, to $20,000 for the FY14 year that begins July 1.
Because the funding cut was written into the published budget which the supervisors approved after Tuesday’s hearing, the funding decision is for now, set in stone. The supervisors have no legal authority to change that amount until after the budget goes into effect. Then they would have to do it through a formal budget amendment.
While not promising any changes, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jason Sanders told BDGrepresentatives to keep in touch and continue the dialog with supervisors before July 1.
Everyone who spoke during the meeting urged the supervisors to restore the full funding. Cutting the level of support from $47,000 to $20,000 would effectively eliminate the job of BDGDirector Ranae Becker.
“I am thankful for the all of the support letters and those who were in attendance for the Supervisor's meeting Tuesday,” Becker said after the meeting. “BentonCountyand my career, I love them both, and I don't want to see an organization this important to the county close.”
Becker said the BDGExecutive Committee will meet next week to discuss strategies and the full board of directors will meet March 27th to decide the future plans.
Former supervisor Ron Buch was one who spoke in favor of restoring BDGfunding.
Buch told the supervisors, that in this modern climate, small towns need to work on a regional basis to pool their resources. The BDG, he said, serves that purpose, and cutting the funding “is the opposite of what needs to happen,” he said.
Dave Coulter told the supervisors that BDGhas not been “beating its own drum enough,” not explaining to leaders what they do and how important it is.
“We need to show you the value of this thing, to keep us alive one more year,” Coulter said.
One of the issues the supervisors raised is that in previous years, the cities of BentonCountyhelped fund BDG. But one-by-one, those cities stopped providing funds, leaving the county responsible for funding BDG.
“The question is, ‘How can we get our cities more involved?’” said County Attorney Dave Thompson.
BDG member Don Eells said the more important question is what will happen for the county's economic future if the budget cut results in the county losing BDG.
The supervisors briefly discussed a variety of options, including loaning BDGmoney for the coming year, with the expectation that cities renew their annual support of the organization.
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