Park Rapids board assesses management of revolving loan fund
Mayor Ryan Leckner told council on Tuesday that at a recent HLDC board meeting, Executive Director Mary Thompson said they now have the capacity to manage the fund, which is currently managed by the Commission Headwaters Regional Development Agency (HRDC) based in Bemidji.
In the past, said Leckner, it was difficult for business owners who applied for a revolving loan to contact HRDC. “People should go to Bemidji to meet them, to start,” he said.
Leckner added that he and other city officials had difficulty convincing HRDC to tell them the balance of funds available for loans, “which is pretty scary,” he said.
Leckner said the city’s Economic Development Authority board had the power to hand over the contract to the HLDC, “and it would be a kind of one-stop shop.”
Also, he noted, the change would save a bit of money, since the city is already contributing to the HLDC and therefore would not change the loan administration fee.
Acting City Administrator Betty Thomsen later explained that HRDC’s role in managing the fund is to collect request data, secure the loan, present the request to the loan committee for approval, and close the loan.
By contract, Thomsen said, the city agreed to pay HRDC a loan administration fee of $ 750 for up to five borrowers per year, or $ 1,100 for six to 10 borrowers.
Leckner said the city paid HRDC $ 1,500 in 2019, $ 2,300 in 2018, and amounts ranging from $ 956 to $ 2,600 in previous years for these administration fees and related costs.
“With the closures and closings of restaurants, many businesses in Park Rapids (maybe) need help, it could speed up the process for them and make the money a little more available to our community and more usable.” , says Leckner.
Council member Erika Randall said the Council needed more information before making a decision. She proposed to send the matter back to staff for further study, and the motion was carried unanimously.
In other financial matters, the board has appointed Dawn Rouse as a full-time accounts payable clerk, effective November 25.
Rouse had previously been hired as a part-time accounts payable clerk as of September 23.
Thomsen said Rouse is already working almost full time and his additional responsibilities are intended to help resolve the “segregation of duties” issue mentioned in the city’s audit report every year.
“We definitely needed her even without it,” said Thomsen, “but now we can have more of a look at payroll, accounts payable, etc.”
According to the council resolution, the schedule change does not affect Rouse’s salary, currently $ 15 an hour, or his six-month probationary period. However, it does provide her with a full-time employee benefits package.
Thomsen said the funds for the full-time position are in the city budget.
Randall moved to approve the resolution and the motion was carried unanimously.