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JDA board discusses natural gas, loans and policies at June meeting

By Sue Sitter - | Jun 19, 2021

Natural gas for Rugby and help for local businesses topped the agenda for the Rugby Job Development Authority Board of Directors at their regular meeting held June 9 in the JDA office.

JDA Executive Director Karl Frigaard told the board he had been making contact with larger local businesses that had potential to become consumers of natural gas. “For the most part, everybody’s positive about it,” Frigaard said.

Frigaard also told the board he had contacted other economic development agencies for ideas on best practices and would attend an Economic Development Association of North Dakota conference in Bottineau in mid-June.

Members also reviewed powers and duties given by city ordinances to the JDA, continuing a discussion from April and May, when the JDA had talked about soliciting bids for lawn maintenance in the JDA-owned Chalmers Addition subdivision. The JDA had reviewed two bids for mowing submitted in March before tabling the bids, making them void.

City Council member Frank LaRocque referred to the matter at the May council meeting. LaRocque said the JDA’s actions should be subject to the authority of the city council according to information he had learned from the North Dakota Attorney General’s office. The council had voted to order the JDA to reopen bids for lawn mowing in the Chalmers Addition and hire an outside contractor for the job instead of using city workers to mow the lots as they had previously done.

“There is an actual ordinance from the city that governs the JDA,” Mayor Sue Steinke said.

Steinke referred to Rugby City Ordinance 413, which contains a section giving specific powers to the JDA, including making and executing “contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers of the authority.”

Steinke maintained the section gave the JDA the power to negotiate contracts independent of limitations imposed on other city government entities. The authority granted by the ordinance would also mean the JDA’s decisions would not necessarily be subject to city council approval.

The ordinance governing contracts and purchases by city agencies is Ordinance 426, which says, “All purchases exceeding $2,500 shall require specific council approval even if budgeted.”

Frigaard told the board mowing on the Chalmers Addition began June 2 and finished the morning of June 3. Spraying for weeds would be done after the weeds re-grew from the mowing. The board had hired Rugby resident Jason Solem for the job.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve an application for a Flex PACE loan submitted by Ashley Berg, owner of Main Street Boutique on Rugby’s Main Avenue. Berg plans to remodel the second floor of her shop’s building.

The board also reviewed a notice sent by the Pierce County Tax Assessor’s office advising the JDA of an increase in assessed real estate valuation.

“The JDA was sent this for informational purposes because the JDA is not the taxpayer because of the triple net lease with the Johnson Clinic,” Steinke told the board, adding, “They sent that paperwork for informational purposes and any future reference, so, no action needs to be taken.”

“Apparently they took the revenue the JDA is generating into consideration along with the value of the land,” Steinke noted.

The board also approved a request to extend a contract for services provided by Century 21 to sell lots in the Chalmers Addition.

The JDA next meets July 14 at noon in the JDA office.

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