The Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) Held a special meeting Tuesday morning to discuss alternatives to the Crookston City Council’s presented options regarding the dissolution of CHEDA. The meeting included discussing CHEDA’s proposed ideas if a change in leadership is needed and where will it come from, as well as if a clear divide between CHEDA and City Council is needed regarding certain roles. CHEDA felt the meeting was necessary so they could come up with something to present to City Council before action is taken on the City’s passed option regarding CHEDA.

The option that’s been passed by City Council for a public hearing which will be held on July 12, was option three of the four from the Special Ways and Means meeting held on June 21. The option states the CHEDA powers will only be exercised before approval from City Council and will allow the immediate replacement of board members with seven members of the Council by amending the enabling resolution. The option will also eliminate funding to CHEDA for Economic Development and create a Community Development department.

Some benefits from this presented option, according to the City Council, include communication coming from within one building, consistency of the philosophy of City Council and CHEDA, and dual oversight by elected officials. Issues with the presented idea include experienced commissioners, being replaced, and the requirement of a public hearing to amend enabling resolution.

CHEDA has until July 12 to present City Council with a plan or course of action, for the public and City Council to be aware of their recommendations before the public hearing takes place. CHEDA President Kurt Heldstab says he is not on board with the City Council’s option. “Since I’ve been on the board, since 2010/2011, there’s a structure that’s been in place, and the options presented by City Council don’t align with those structures, even our proposed option doesn’t align with our structure necessarily,” said Heldstab. “One thing we’ve wanted to do is stay focused on that and keep the driving force and all the hours spent working towards that structure, and now we’re moving away from it.”

CHEDA constructed a letter to discuss during the meeting with board members. The letter included three alternative options to City Council’s option.

  1. CHEDA contributes up to $50,000 of the current annual stipend going forward, starting in July 2021, to greatly assist with the City’s desire to hire a Community Development Director.
  2. The two existing City Council members on the CHEDA Board are replaced by the Mayor and another Council member with strong leadership and communication skills.
  3. The CHEDA monthly management report is already given to the City Council members in the exact form it is presented to the CHEDA board.
    They would add – Report to the City Council more often at council meetings which is an addition to what they already do.

Some CHEDA members feel the solution could be in more than one or even all three of their options presented. None of the options would require an immediate change to CHEDA. Option one and three were removed by the CHEDA board, and option two will be presented to City Council with some modifications.

Some of the modifications made to the passed option included City Council deciding what two members will be on the board, meaning it wouldn’t necessarily need to be the mayor, and a clear understanding to City Council that their members on the board will be under CHEDA authority and leadership. They will not be in a President or Vice President role immediately.

Another big talking point during the meeting between CHEDA board members, including CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, was the discussion of how much involvement City Council members should have with CHEDA. Hoiseth was clear that as long as the person is interested in economic issues and has a well-rounded resume and background with the community, they’re more than welcome to be a part of the board. “We currently have two acting voting City Council members on the board and another who serves as a liaison between the CHEDA board and City Council” said Hoiseth. “CHEDA not only wants to but is mandated to have City Council involvement.”

There was a fair amount of discussion of how to proceed with leadership change, and Hoiseth says the board shouldn’t be changed or scrutinized like it has been the past few weeks. “I think the people on the CHEDA board are some of the best things that Crookston has to offer,” said Hoiseth. “Their resumes are impeccable. I think our board is intact on purpose and to remove all that talent and skillset to have City Council members replace them diminishes the board’s overall capacity.” Hoiseth also mentioned how the board serves in tough situations but do their job well and engage within the community better than most.

The public hearing on July 12 will allow City Council to dig into the second option of the three that will be presented from CHEDA as well as the third option passed at the Special Ways and Means meeting back on June 21. Changes to City Council’s option can be made before the official vote takes place at the City Council meeting on July 12. Whatever agreement or middle ground reached once City Council reads CHEDA’s proposal, will be set in stone and voted on by July 12. If the vote passes, then whatever resolution that was voted on will be the route City Council will take and CHEDA’s new future. If the vote is turned aside and not passed, then the process will start over again.