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Hanover still has questions about JC-INVEST
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Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:00 AM
Hanover Town Council president Debbie Kroger said the council is committed to economic development in Jefferson County but members still have questions about Madison Mayor Damon Welch's JC-INVEST program which includes Hanover.
Town Council members met with the mayor during a public meeting Monday to hear the latest plans for JC-INVEST. The mayor hopes to have a representative from each legislative body in the county on the advisory board.
"We're still investing in it, and we still want to see something for the town," Kroger said of local economic development.
The mayor's plan calls for five elected officials and seven appointed sector representatives.
The five elected officials - the mayor, a Madison City Council member, County Council member, Board of Commissioner member and Town Council of Hanover member - would be called the Executive Council, and will be the only voting members on the board.
In its current form, the plan would be created under a city of Madison ordinance.
Last week during a joint public session, several members of the County Council and Board of Commissioners said they favored an inter-local agreement. Kroger said she feels the same way.
"I'm not for it, but I'm not opposed to it either," Kroger said of the mayor's plan.
"If this is truly going to be a joint effort, with all the entities and they want everyone to be committed to this, we need to have an inter-local agreement," she said.
Kroger said there is still some confusion, including the role of the finances, overall goals, duties of sector representatives and meeting framework.
"I just feel that it needs to slow down, and we need to understand more about what all the topics will be," she said.
If the board is formed, Kroger said that council member Brett Mitchell has asked to serve as Hanover's representative.
Both the town and county have voiced concerns that if the body was implemented under a city ordinance, changes could be made to the structure without a general consensus.
Welch said he has been in talks with county and Hanover representatives since July and implemented several of their recommendations into the proposed ordinance - such as adding a representative from agriculture to JC-INVEST.
But after speaking with the city attorney Joe Jenner and examining similar boards, Welch said he felt the need to create an ordinance instead of an inter-local agreement because the plan started as a city initiative and because no funds are being used. Also, he said the matters that the board will vote on would be non-binding.
"It is our opinion that since this JC-INVEST is not going to have control of any funds, not going to have a budget, that there was no need to have an inter-local agreement," he said.
Welch added that he wants to see the plan move forward and that he was afraid an inter-local agreement would slow down the process.
"Let's get this thing started and see where it goes," he said.
Down the road, Welch said if the board begins working with funds, that would be the appropriate time to pursue an inter-local agreement. Such a change is written in the latest proposed ordinance.
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