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Farmington EDA makeup still not set

The Farmington Economic Development Authority will likely change its configuration in the months to come, but what that configuration will be remains to be seen.

Most EDA members favor a seven-member board -- only member Julie May would like to see a board of five members -- but the make-up of that board is still up for discussion.

Following Monday's EDA meeting, city planner Lee Smick said the board has eliminated an earlier suggestion to hand-pick two members to represent the Farmington business community. City attorney Joel Jamnik suggested that state statute does not allow seats to be designated to specific individuals, though it does allow for communities to accept applications and make appointments based off of those applications.

At the March EDA meeting, members also questioned whether they could open the application process to non-residents who owned businesses within the community, as the business owners technically pay taxes to the city of Farmington.

State statute does not limit membership on boards and commissions to residents who live within a city's boundaries. However, city of Farmington executive assistant Cindy Muller pointed out, changing the qualifications for the EDA could mean setting a precedent for the city's other commissions. Changing the process to allow non-residents to apply for the EDA would also mean changing city ordinance. The consensus of members Monday was that since the EDA has taxing authority, its membership should remain limited to residents, Smick said.

According to Smick, four of the seven current members preferred a configuration that includes two advisory members who would have some insight into the city's business community; three at-large members representing the residents of Farmington; and two city council members, which is required by law.

May cited the difference in cost between a five- and seven-member board as a consideration. A stipend of $360 would be allocated for a five-member board, while a seven-member board would require $600 in stipend payments. Mayor Todd Larson indicated he was still interested in maintaining the current configuration of all five council members and two at-large members, and Christy Jo Fogarty was not present.

The matter will be brought back at the May EDA meeting for a decision, Smick said. In order to implement a change in the configuration, the EDA will have to schedule and hold a public hearing to receive input from residents. If the EDA changes its configuration, the new members will be appointed when the rest of the city's commission seats are appointed after Jan. 1, 2013. Those members would take seats Feb. 1, 2013.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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