City cuts economic development position
Eliminating the economic development specialist position was not an easy decision for Farmington city administrator David McKnight, but it was a necessary one.
On Monday, McKnight gave economic development specialist Tina Hansmeier the news that her position has been eliminated and her last day with the city will be Monday, Feb. 13. The cut was due to a projected $370,000 budget shortfall in 2013.
"I have a budget hole to fill. That is the reason for this, period," he said.
By eliminating the position early in 2012, the city will be able to take care of all of the unemployment costs associated with Hansmeier's dismissal this year. With that position eliminated from the 2013 budget, the city will save approximately $75,000 in salary and benefit expenses next year, McKnight said.
The Farmington City Council has charged McKnight with reorganizing city departments and making cuts where necessary in 2012. The elimination of the economic development specialist position is the first of those cuts, he said. More are coming.
"There are some other pieces of this. It might or might not be people. This is the first part of the $370,000 budget shortfall that I know I need to fill. It all depends on a number of factors," he said.
The duties of the economic development specialist will be divided among McKnight, city of Farmington executive assistant Cindy Muller, city planner Lee Smick and assistant city planner Tony Wippler. McKnight has a framework set of who will do what, but as of Tuesday he had not had the opportunity to sit down and go over that framework with the team. He'll tweak the plan as necessary, he said, so there is no service interruption for residents or the existing business community.
Farmington Business Association president Clyde Rath said he is sorry to see Hansmeier go but that the FBA understands the city's financial constraints, as well.
"This is just an intermediate step. Economic development will not be cut in the long term and it will be restaffed in the future," Rath said. "Economic development is in flux right now. Everyone wants to see it take a higher profile. Now it's just a matter of trying to figure out how to make it happen. We want to look at adjustments and improvements. Everybody is pretty much on the same page about wanting to elevate economic development right now. It's just a matter of how you get there."
Still, it was not an easy decision, McKnight said.
"This is a tough decision to make. It's something we didn't want to do, but we had to," he said. "It's tough on an organization and people. We're going to do our best to continue to serve the people and the businesses of Farmington."
McKnight notified the Farmington City Council of his intent to eliminate the economic development specialist position prior to Monday. He also contacted Rath after speaking with Hansmeier Monday.