Weatherford Democrat

January 24, 2013

Council considering WEDC’s direction


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford council members decided to table direction regarding the contract with the Weatherford Economic Development Corporation for a month following a nearly hour-long work session Tuesday afternoon.

The contract, which is up for renewal every five years and is automatically renewed if there are no changes to it, has City Manager Jerry Blaisdell questioning some of what he calls “gray area” in it, including some of the lines of communication and responsibility areas.

“(WEDC Executive Director) Dennis (Clayton) and I have talked about these issues for years,” Blaisdell said. “Under the current contract, Dennis is answering to two heads right now, which can be difficult.”

Blaisdell said the contract was revised in 2009 so Clayton would report to the city manager. He said he would like to know what his role is or should be under the contract.

The working arrangement, where the EDC staff are both city employees and the EDC is 100 percent funded by the city, has worked well but Blaisdell gave two options on what he would like to see done.

The first would make the EDC an independent corporation, still funded wholly by the city, where Clayton would be responsible to the WEDC board of directors. The second would make the EDC a city department such as Parks and Recreation or Management and Budget and make the present board more of an advisory committee.

To do that, however, the present board would have to agree to dissolve. Blaisdell said 90-day notice is required to do away with the board.

“Both ways would help with the communication process,” Blaisdell said. “The WEDC has made significant contributions and I have no problem with either proposal.”

Blaisdell said there were times he wanted to speak to the WEDC board about items but couldn’t because of the terms of the current contract. Clayton said working in the current environment has been “functional and efficient” but said whatever decision is made, maintaining business confidentiality is of utmost importance.

Council member Heidi Wilder and Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy both said they would like to make the WEDC a city department but Wilder insisted upon reading the contract before making any final decisions.

Another work session is scheduled before the first council meeting in February.