County to hear from AES in special meeting Tuesday

MANISTEE — The Manistee County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Tuesday morning to hear a presentation from the Alliance for Economic Success.

Following the presentation — to be delivered by the organization’s new executive director, Lisa Leedy — commissioners will consider taking action on their options for funding future economic development services.

“We certainly want to continue economic development in the county,” said Jeff Dontz, chair of the county board. “As the old saying goes: rising tide lifts all boats. We’ve invested in it, and I believe the board is committed to it, so we need to move forward with who we believe will best serve that interest.”

The meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room of the Manistee County Courthouse and Government Center, located at 415 Third St. in Manistee.

The Alliance for Economic Success (AES) — a nonprofit that works with area businesses, governments and community organizations — has been funded by Manistee County, as well as the City of Manistee, since 2008. Its current three-year contract, however, expires on Dec. 31.

Manistee County has a $90,000 appropriation for funding economic development services in its 2017-18 fiscal year budget, which began Oct. 1, but only about $22,500 has been allocated to the AES through 2017.

“We have the remaining portion of that appropriation set aside in a contingency line item,” Manistee County controller/administrator Tom Kaminski explained, “so if the board decides to remain with AES, they won’t have to amend the budget, they’ll just have to transfer that money from the contingency line item to the AES.”

The City of Manistee — whose council is also weighing its options — is in a similar situation, with $23,259 allocated to AES for 2017 instead of the full $46,518 for the entire 2017-18 term. A $20,759 surplus was left over in its budget.

With the contract’s expiration date fast approaching, concerns over AES’s organizational structure have been voiced recently by certain members of the city council and county board. The organization has stated it’s committed to taking measures to restructure, including the creation of an executive director position and hiring Leedy to fill that role.

The city council and county board held a joint study session on Sept. 26 to hear an economic development proposal from the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We need to decide if we’re going to continue on with AES or if we’re going to travel down a new road and look for economic development through the chamber,” Dontz said. “We certainly hope to make that decision Tuesday and move forward.”

On Tuesday of this week, Manistee City Council held a work session on its economic development options, which was attended by representatives from AES as well as the Chamber.

At the session, council members discussed the city possibly funding AES on a case-by-case basis. In this scenario, the city would decide on projects, weigh their importance and receive a cost for services from the AES. No official decision on future funding has been made by the council.

“I would like to see the city and the county on the same page when it comes to this issue, there’s no question about that,” Dontz said, “but having said that, the respective boards will have to make a decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of the people they serve.”

avatar

Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

One comment on “County to hear from AES in special meeting Tuesday

Leave a Reply