The Perry City Council met at the same time on a new day on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
The meeting, typically held on the third Monday of every month, was first postponed because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The meeting was then postponed from Jan. 22 because of winter weather.
“I want to thank everybody for working with us and making this meeting happen on Wednesday,” Mayor John Andorf said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a council meeting on Wednesday before.
The Council passed a resolution approving the creation of a Community and Economic Development Department during the Jan. 23 meeting.
City Administrator Sven Peterson said Building Official Abraham Cardenas resigned from his position. The City will move forward with replacing his position in mid to late March or early April.
He hopes to also fill the newly created Community and Economic Development Director position about the same time.
The director position was created through the resolution passed by the Council during the Jan. 23 meeting.
The creation of the Community and Economic Development Department is something Peterson has been working on for around two years. The department, he said, will be better able to serve developers and those looking to redevelop property in Perry.
It’s a broad position, Peterson added, as economic development and community development involve multiple aspects.
Council Member Barb Wolling said the department and the director position is a good idea. Especially as she has had various individuals involved with local projects say they wish there was one point person to talk to about development.
“This is something that Perry Economic Development talked about with the City for over two years,’ Council Member Randy McCaulley said. “Whoever we hire is going to work very closely with Perry Economic Development. That’s going to be a positive, I think, having that person be there on a regular basis and really working together with those folks.”
Peterson added that the creation of a Community and Economic Development Director will free up the Building Official as well. The Building Official will then be able to fully tackle code enforcement, rental inspections and building inspections. While the Community and Economic Development Director will take over the planning and zoning administration aspects of the Building Official position.
The current planning and zoning department has around $70,000 in the general fund. The creation of the Community and Economic Development Department will reorganize that department, Peterson said.
He anticipates a salary around $65,000 for the new director position, depending on qualifications and experience.
“Part of of this proposal is to do an interfund loan to ourselves to create debt, that we can repay with tax increment financing,” Peterson said.
The loan runs about a year behind, so he said the loan would be created this year and would be repaid back next year. The interfund loan would have to be created each year, Peterson added, in order to create the mechanism to harvest the TIF funds.
The new department will also be partially funded from local options sales tax. As of Jan. 1, 2020, the ballot language for the new local options sales tax includes community development as one of the expenditures, Peterson said.
He hopes the department will create more value within the community to help boost the City’s general fund.
“Historically, we’ve had more of a reactive approach to economic development and community development,” Peterson said. Part of what I’ve tried to do over the past few years is create more of a proactive approach of what we’re doing where we’re more out there trying to find developers and find people to come invest within the community.”
Andorf added that the new department is the logical next step as the City of Perry evolves.