Posted 1/26/16 (Tue)
By Cecile Krimm
Whether or not to offer a recruitment and incentive program to skilled tradesmen and professionals is an issue that divides the Crosby Spirit Fund board.
Members also talked last week about the need to create awareness about the need to continue the city’s 1 percent city sales tax.
Members agreed at a meeting Thursday to send a draft of a program to the city council, but they have mixed opinions on whether it will be effective.
“I think it’s fine to entice and help people to relocate . . . but in my opinion it’s not worked in the past to pay someone to move here,” said Board Member Gerald Brady.
On the other hand, said Chairman Steve Joraanstad, “If you can help pay their education back, you get two or three years out of them, that’s better than nothing.”
Community Developer KayCee Lindsey said her research yielded information about only one other existing program in the state.
“Nobody other than Carrington has done it, but they all say when you come up with something, let us know,” said Lindsey.
Carrington’s program has only just launched.
Lindsey gave board members an outline of a program requiring a minimum three-year commitment from applicants willing to bring a trade or service to Crosby. They could receive up to $4,000 in reimbursement for skilled trades and up to $8,000 for professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree.
“With the kids who are going to college now, they have been raised on incentives, so when they see that dollar sign that is a very persuasive tool,” said Lindsey. However, Brady said, it will do no good to recruit a tradesman if there isn’t enough work.
“I don’t think offering money if there is no opportunity is going to work,” said Brady.
Either incentive, as proposed, would be paid out in three annual installments.
It would be up to the city council, ultimately, to decide whether each applicant should be granted the incentive.
Lindsey said she has talked with attorney Seymour Jordan about a contract to assure recipients hold up their end of the bargain, or pay back funds if they leave before three years.
Sales tax vote
Crosby’s 1 percent city sales tax has been devoted to economic development and infrastructure needs of the city and has passed handily in the past, but members are concerned about competing with two other local taxes.
“If we lose that 1 percent, we’ve lost a huge amount for this city,” said Joraanstad. “If it doesn’t pass, the growth of Crosby is gone.”
The Crosby Park Board and St. Luke’s Medical Center each have their own 1 percent tax also.
Lindsey said she is working on developing a list of all of the awards made to show how valuable the Spirit Fund has been to local businesses and organizations.
She said she will also be working with the city auditor to get an exact balance of what is in the fund now.
Joraanstad said while each of the other 1 percent taxes benefit specific entities -- such as the parks and hospital -- the city’s 1 percent tax benefits everyone.
The city sales tax was put in place after voters approved a home rule charter in 1992. The city council has the authority to extend the sales tax by resolution, but has a tradition of putting the continuation of the tax up to a citywide vote.
The issue will be on the June 14 ballot.