Milford officials are searching for ways to fund the city’s economic development director position, just weeks after the trial position was cut due to financial limitations.
The position, budgeted at $81,000 and previously held by Steve Masten, was based on a one-year contract as a trial to see how the city could benefit from a full-time economic development director, a contract that ended in July.
Both City Manager Richard Carmean and the Chairman of Milford City Council’s Finance Committee S. Allen “Skip” Pikus said there was not enough money within the city’s general funds to keep the full-time position filled.
During an economic development committee meeting on Aug. 15, Committee Chairman Garrett Grier said the city is in dire need of an economic development director and it is his desire to fill this position by using economic development funds to cover the money needed for salary and benefits packages.
“The common consensus is that we need someone in that position … sooner than later,” Grier said.
Pikus said funding for city employees is commonly allocated through the general fund, although money can be transferred from other funds if necessary.
“The position can be funded out of that [economic development] account,” Pikus said, “but council needs to vote on that.”
While Carmean previously stated that the money within the economic development fund was earmarked for other purchases, including a new police station, a financial commitment was never approved by city council. The $875,000 that could be used for a new police station is currently unobligated within the economic development funds.
Carmean said he took the majority of responsibility for the miscommunication concerning the availability of money within the economic development fund and concerning funding for the economic development director position.
“Most of it was on my part,” he said. “I wish when we were having the discussion about the budget, and I said, ‘Look we don’t have enough money in the general fund to pay the salary,’ that would have been a great time for someone to say, ‘Wait, why don’t we use the same funds [that were used to fund the position in the previous year]?” Carmean said. “Now we’re revisiting it.”
Grier said the discussions may have been misinterpreted, but his opinion is that money was not to be used for a police station.
“It was discussed, there was debate back and forth, but it was never agreed or disagreed on,” he said.
The economic development committee motioned for the city manager to refine the economic development director job description at its Aug. 15 meeting with the intent of hiring an economic development director in the near future.
Page 2 of 2 - Grier addressed the issue of hiring the director to city council Monday night, in which Carmean said he will need to meet with the economic development committee to see what changes it would like made to the description before bringing it back to council.