Sherburne County is revamping its economic development staff to best utilize in-house resources.
At the last county board meeting, the commissioners voted to add economic development responsibilities to Dan Weber’s job description.
Weber has been the county assessor for almost two years. He has a background in administration, having served as county coordinator in Kanabec County.
In June, he was appointed interim deputy administrator while a recruiting firm worked on selecting a new county administrator to replace Brain Bensen, who retired Aug. 1.
Steve Taylor was hired as the new county administrator in November.
At the last meeting, Taylor presented a proposal to change Weber’s title to Sherburne County Assessor/ Economic Development Specialist.
“As far as utilizing in-house skills, I think that’s a very positive option for the county,” Taylor told the board. “Dan Weber has a great deal of expertise on our different properties -not only that the county owns but properties throughout the county and he can provide services that were formerly contracted out.”
The county has been contracting with Jana King of Economic Development Services (EDS) for the past 10 years. The county spends approximately $3,600 per month or $43,200 a year for her services.
Taylor said along with changing Weber’s title, the county will send out requests for proposals (RFPs) for specialized economic development services to supplement Weber’s efforts.
“Because we’ve been utilizing the services of Jana king for 10 years, it just makes sense to go out and issue an RFP and see what else is out in the marketplace,” he said.
Weber’s salary would be adjusted by $3,640 a year, about 1/12th of the cost the county is paying EDS. The total cost for supplemental services will be determined by the firms who respond to the RFP. But Taylor said the intention was to reduce the total number of consulting hours.
Taylor said the county would benefit in a number of ways because of Weber’s background as assessor. In addition to saving money for the county, Weber already keeps an inventory of vacant properties. And any new economic development projects will require value and tax estimates and impacts.
“We’ll save money while providing as good or better service,” he said.
Weber’s work in economic development should not exceed 20% of his current workload, said Taylor.
The board also agreed to extend the contract with EDS through the end of January, 2014 while waiting for results of the RFPs. At the same time, economic development work will be transitioned from EDS to Weber.