Jackson County asks towns to dissolve economic development commission

Before a crowded room of town officials this week, Jackson County Commissioner Jack Debnam announced, in so many words, what many already knew: the county’s economic development committee in its previous form was dead and never coming back.

 

Debnam then asked the elected leaders from each town for their support in formally disbanding the defunct EDC, which has not convened for about five years.

A nod from each of the fours towns in the county is the key step in officially dissolving the EDC, which exists only on paper these days. Since it was created collectively by the county and each of the towns, the towns must agree to dissolve it and in turn, pave the way for the county to move forward with its plan to create a brand-new, county-run economic development commission.

This time around, the economic development commission would be under the purvey of the county, instead of sharing power and representation with the towns. Debnam said the old structure made it too unwieldy and hampered efforts.

“We’ve got to be one unit here,” Debnam said. “I don’t think we can be five different units anymore.”

Debnam broached the issue during a quarterly dinner of elected leaders from each of the four towns and the county held Monday. Debnam said he hopes to have the old EDC officially dissolved by early March.

About $420,000 remains in the EDC bank account. About $7,000 of that was monetary contributions from the towns, which will be returned to them. The rest will remain earmarked for economic development initiatives by the new commission.

The representatives from the local townships didn’t voice opposition to the plan at the meeting.

Rick Fulton, a Webster town board member, said this is what should have happened five or six years ago. The economic development committee has quite a past of problems, from failed directors to disbanded boards.

“It’s been a long history,” Fulton said. “It’s been down quite a path.”

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