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If city helps with Dew Days, who gets the bill?

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news Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
651-463-7730 customer support
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

For the time being, discussions about how the city of Farmington will help out the Castle Rock-Empire-Eureka-Farmington Areawide Enhancement Group will be kept at the city council level, but that may change.

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A recommendation has been made to place the CEEF problems -- namely a $25,000 deficit created by the 2009 Dew Days celebration -- before the Farmington Economic Development Authority, instead of the Farmington City Council. The difference between the two entities might seem a little vague, though, since the elected city council members also sit as the EDA board.

The groups work with different budgets, though. The city council is responsible for making decisions on the city's general fund; the EDA has its own budget that functions outside the realm of the city's general fund.

Last week, CEEF board chairperson Julie McKnight formally asked city council members to consider helping the nonprofit organization pay some of the outstanding bills from the most recent city celebration. Since such celebrations could be considered an economic building tool, though, council member and EDA chairperson Christy Jo Fogarty proposed moving the CEEF deficit discussions from the city council meetings to the EDA meetings. Her motives, she said, are strictly to have those discussions before the appropriate governing body.

However, EDA member Steve Wilson raised concerns with public perception if that were to happen. The city council meetings are broadcast on cable and the Internet; EDA meetings are not.

"The perception will be that this is a sneaky way to take it off of television," Wilson said.

Julie May agreed. She also recognized that the celebration could be seen as an economic tool, but cautioned her colleagues not to act too fast to bail out CEEF.

"I agree it's a great marketing tool, but we have to take our time with this just a little bit," May said.

City administrator Peter Herlofsky has met with CEEF representatives since the request was made at the Aug. 17 council meeting. So far, Empire township officials have indicated they would be willing to help CEEF cover some of its shortfall, but Eureka and Castle Rock officials are not as forthcoming.

And the city of Farmington? If the city gives funds to CEEF, it would be in the form of a loan CEEF would be asked to pay back over a three- to five-year period, he said.

Which leads back to Fogarty's recommendation -- to move the discussions from the city council to the EDA.

"A loan can come out of the EDA just as easy as the general fund," she said. "It all comes out of taxpayer dollars."

Herlofsky plans to bring a recommendation to address CEEF's request to the Sept. 8 city council meeting. Where the members plan to discuss it in the future -- at council or EDA meetings -- is still up for discussion.

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