by TaLeiza Calloway
It’s that time of year when area cities are in budget mode. Boards and commissions are no different, with many preparing budgets for capital-improvement requests for the coming year.
As budget planning continues, the St. Joseph Economic Development Authority is thinking progress. The board set a budget on Aug. 22 of $33,500 for 2013. This is up from about $27,500 last year.
The increase stems from a plan by board members to take plans from paper to action. Some of the areas it would like to move forward is in the formulation of a downtown action plan. EDA consultant Joanne Foust said the city has applied for a $4,500 grant from the Initiative Foundation to aid in this effort. They will learn about the progress of the application in November, she said.
Another area that contributed to the budget increase is in funding to help rental conversions. Plans are to partner with the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership to seek funding to help property owners who are interested in converting their rental properties into standard housing. Stearns County once offered similar funding assistance in this area, but the department that helped locate that type of funding no longer exists.
EDA member Larry Hosch was happy to see plans for the downtown landscape emphasized in the budget. He told board members he thinks business property-owners are starting to think about what the future holds and are willing to talk. The key is to determine what parts of the downtown plan to initiate first to start moving forward with ideas.
Last year, city boards and commissions were asked to reduce budgets. The EDA reduced its 2012 capital-improvement requests by $16,500. With frugality at the forefront of budget planning, board members know a recommendation to reduce the board’s request is probable.
The St. Joseph City Council has to approve the EDA’s capital-improvement request prior to moving forward. With the city facing tough financial times, city council members will set the city’s preliminary budget and levy for 2013 at their first meeting in September. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 at St. Joseph City Hall.