Town opts to stick with RRFDC

The committee of the whole of council last night recommended the town stick with services offered by the Rainy River Future Development Corp. rather than forming its own economic development office.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said this morning council and the RRFDC board will meet in the near future to work out some “minor details.”
“But tentatively, it’s the same deal as last year,” he said, with the town paying a $7 per capita fee to the RRFDC–totalling about $60,000–for its economic development services.
The economic development committee had recommended the town form its own EDO over concerns Fort Frances wasn’t getting its full money’s worth with the RRFDC.
But with costs estimated at $150,000-$175,000 for setting up an EDO, Mayor Witherspoon noted it just didn’t seem profitable for the town to go on its own.
“Without having a proper tracking record with what the EDO would accomplish in his/her first year, and with an extra $100,000 investment, would we be better off? We don’t know,” the mayor remarked.
“The second point would be budget constraints,” he added. “We’re getting pretty good service. It was a concern early on that we were paying more than our share but that, too, was unknown.
“If I can send any kind of message today, it would be that everyone in the district get involved with the service at [the RRFDC],” Mayor Witherspoon stressed.
Also at last night’s committee of the whole meeting, a recommendation to pass the controllable portion of the town’s 2000 budget was prepared for next Monday’s regular council meeting.
But CAO Bill Naturkach noted council still had the uncontrollable portion of the budget to deal with, which includes things like ambulance and police services.
Naturkach couldn’t specify this morning why more time was needed to handle these costs. But in a previous committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Witherspoon called for the town to send a strong message to those setting the uncontrollable costs to stay at 1999 levels.
The committee of the whole also held further discussions on the appointment of a manager of Operations and Facilities, as well as the operational review being done on the town.
Naturkach said the final report on the review is expected for council’s eyes only Monday, at which point a disclosure process will be approved.
“In terms of release protocol, there will no doubt be an internal release first, then an external release which includes public media,” he noted.