Ever since EDA director Matt Geretschlaeger said this summer that he was going to resign, the question of who will lead the troubled economic development agency has been up in the air.
Geretschlaeger has been working part-time since May of 2009 because of EDA budget shortfalls, and in July, said he couldn’t afford to continue at half pay and would be stepping down at the end of the year. But Geretschlaeger never actually submitted a written resignation and the EDA board didn’t revisit the issue until this month because of uncertainty about the 2011 budget. Don Davison is on the EDA board.
“Without knowing what the county was going to do with our budget, whether it was going to be increased or stay the same, we didn’t know what his employment status would be, whether we could even keep him on,” says Davison. “There were some threats out there to cut the budget, keep it the same, but we didn’t even know if we could even afford him part time, and he’d put in his resignation. We couldn't even advertise for anybody because we didn't know if we had the funding for it.”
The county has agreed to fund the EDA at about the same level as last year. This means that unless the EDA comes up with additional funding on its own, county levy dollars will only cover a half-time director at $27,500 a year plus benefits. In light of this information, the EDA a board asked Geretschlaeger during its Tuesday, December 14th meeting, if he still plans to resign. He said that while he still really can’t afford to work part-time, he'd like to remain on the job.
EDA board chair Mike Littfin made a motion to keep Geretschlaeger on in 2011 at half-salary and benefits. The vote was split 3-3 and failed to pass. Voting to keep Geretschlaeger on as director were board members Mike Littfin, Hal Greenwood, and Mark Sandbo. Voting no was Jim Hall, Don Davison, and Bruce Martinson. EDA board member Jan Sivertson was absent.
After the motion failed to pass, Geretschlaeger appealed to the board for a six month extension, saying he had unfinished business to attend to and wanted things to work out “in the worst way.” The board compromised, agreeing to keep him on an additional three months, until March 31st, when they will take another look at the EDA’s finances and reconsider his employment.
According to Geretschlaeger’s contract, either party can terminate employment with 30 days notice. Likewise, the director’s hours could be restored to full time if funds become available and the board agrees. In other words, nothing is set in stone, and until at least March 31st of 2011, Geretschlaeger will continue as EDA director.
The EDA’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 11th at City Hall in Grand Marais.