City asked to double DCED investment

By Pat Sunderland


Delta County Economic Development is asking the City of Delta to double its investment in economic development in 2018, with the funds going primarily to create an attractive salary/benefits package for the new executive director.

The city budgeted a total of $35,000 for DCED in 2017, although $15,000 has not yet been allocated. Those funds were also on the table for discussion at the city council's Oct. 17 work session.

DCED's third request -- for a portion of the vendor fee once paid to businesses submitting city sales tax -- was stymied when city finance director Tod DeZeeuw explained the vendor fee was repealed in 2001 and all sales tax revenue is pledged to the truck route bonds.

The city's investment in DCED is currently funded through utilities, not sales tax, the reasoning being that economic development will increase the demand for city water, sewer and electrical power.

DCED representatives John Gavan and Tom Huerkamp told council members it's absolutely critical for DCED to find the right person to fill Trish Thibodo's shoes, if the momentum generated over the past couple of years is to continue. For DCED to find an executive director of the same caliber, or a level above, a competitive benefits package that includes health insurance and retirement is a must. One of the reasons Thibodo took a position with the state, they said, is because DCED did not offer any benefits.

DCED has received 11 applications for the executive director position and has already begun the interview process.

"We're going to hire the best person we can regardless of any of the commitments from any of the people we're asking money from," Huerkamp said. Gavan added that the DCED board believes it has no choice but to take that risk.

"We're willing to make this commitment as an organization, so we can continue to move forward," Huerkamp said.

"If this board wants DCED to continue to be a champion for the projects of the City of Delta, we're asking for you to help us out. We're going to ask the county to up the ante too."