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JDA chooses executive director, downsizes board

By Staff | May 10, 2019

Rugby Job Development Agency board members discussed filling the agency’s vacant executive director position at their regular meeting held April 26.

Board member Gary Kraft told the group, “We had three applicants for the director’s position; we interviewed two very qualified people.”

The board discussed attributes and qualifications both candidates possessed, and examined ways to retain employees in the executive director position.

“I think just as a board we need to consider who as a director is going to have the ability to effectively promote Rugby, attract new businesses to Rugby; who is going to, hopefully, provide continuity in the JDA office, not only in the executive director position, but in our office staff,” member Jodi Schaan pointed out.

Schaan and others considered the high turnover rate for the position, and talked about ways to address circumstances that may cause a director to step down.

“We’ve got to have somebody who’s here for some years in a row,” Kraft said. “It takes awhile to figure out what direction you want to go.”

Kraft continued, asking, “And one of my big concerns is our funds, and what do we do with them?”

“You know, going forward, if our sales tax goes down, the budget needs to change, so this JDA has less income to work with, what are we going to do? Are we going to have somebody in that position who’s maybe trying to figure out an exit strategy, or operate with less funds?”

Kraft said of personnel issues board members brought up, “We talked about that a lot.”

Terry Hoffert stressed the importance of allowing employees to learn their job without what he termed “micromanagement.” Hoffert said he worried the pattern of directors stepping down would continue otherwise. “If we reduce the board, whoever’s on the board needs to realize that,” he noted.

The board voted to offer the executive director position to Elizabeth Heisey of Willow City.

Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke addressed reducing the size of the JDA board to comply with City Ordinance 413, which calls for about one-third of the board members’ terms to expire every December 31. Steinke also said hours for JDA office staff personnel would be reduced.

Steinke recommended cutting the number of JDA board members to seven.

To “slim back” the size of the board, Steinke suggested eliminating representation for county government, schools and energy companies, and scaling back the number of banks represented to two.

“My recommendation is to put forth seven people based on that logic,” Steinke noted. “And based on who wants to get off (the board) and who wants to stay, I (recommend the following): myself as mayor; Gary Kraft as secretary; Terry (Hoffert) as a member at large; Jodi Schaan (member at large); Rob St. Michel as vice president; Susan Selensky (as a bank representative); and Blair Brattvet (as a bank representative). Steinke nominated Brattvet to take the helm as board president as current President Tanner Johnson steps down when the new board is seated next month.

Brattvet, who has served on economic development boards for 30 years, is a senior loan officer at North Star Community Credit Union.

Johnson told the board,”It doesn’t matter who (represents financial institutions on the board) as long as they’re here for the community.”

Johnson also pointed out representatives from Rugby’s banks would have the option of forming ad hoc committees for financial issues concerning the JDA.

Steinke reminded board members JDA meetings are open for the public to attend.

“I think going down to a smaller board will be more effective,” Ramsey Bank representative Sandra Wolf told the group.

In other business, the board discussed minutes for the JDA’s housing committee meetings held earlier this month, and voted their disapproval for the committee’s minutes due to procedural errors.

The board reviewed income statements from January through March. “Obviously, a big expense there is the Chalmers Addition (special exemptions),” Johnson noted. “It seems like our sales tax is trending on course for this year,” he added.

The meeting ended with the board going into executive session to discuss a purchase offer for a parcel of Chalmers Addition land.

The downsized JDA board will hold their next regular meeting Thursday, May 23 at noon.

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