The Pulaski County Farmers’ Market, a planned Leadership Pulaski County class, and tourism marketing efforts could all be in jeopardy, if the county council follows through with a proposed CDC staffing cut.
During a special meeting Tuesday, the Community Development Commission discussed what activities might end up going away if Project Coordinator Krysten Hinkle is no longer there to do them.
One thing that came to mind for CDC President Gregg Malott was the farmers’ market. “That was just one of those additional things that maybe went unseen,” he said. “I know I saw you out there nearly every Saturday in the summertimes helping with the farmers’ market and trying to get some healthy foods.” Hinkle felt that the market could keep going without the CDC’s management, but it would be harder for it to continue accepting WIC and SNAP benefits.
CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer added that the Leadership Pulaski County class that’s about to launch would entirely become the responsibility of the Purdue Extension office, rather than a partnership between the two groups.
He said he might take over the tourism efforts himself, but that would mean dropping several of the non-economic development tasks he’s ended up taking on. “If this position is removed, then that’s all gone,” Origer said. “That is gone. I help [the Building Department]. I get put on projects by the commissioners and council. A significant amount of my time is beyond the scope of this job.” Some of Origer’s duties have ranged from putting meeting minutes on county’s website, to overhauling county’s regulations on wind turbines, to outlining options to restructure the county’s local income taxes.
Former CDC Member MacKenzie Ledley said that in addition to his economic development work, Origer has become something of a county executive. “If something big comes up, who do they call? They call Nathan,” she said. “‘Nathan, can you figure this out?’ Does it have to do with economic development? No. ‘Can you figure this out?’ He does this over and over.” Malott added that some of those extra tasks that Origer would no longer have time to do could be expensive, if the county had to hire someone else to do them.
Going forward, Origer said he’s asked to be on the county council’s agenda Monday to ask members to reconsider cutting funding for Hinkle’s position out of next year’s budget. But he felt it might be hard to get them to do that. “I’m not sure that they have any idea what they’re doing, still, and so crafting a response to them has to involve trying to understand exactly what the multiple endgames are and where they’re going to end up,” Origer added. “It was a four-to-three vote. If we want to petition them to reinstate it, we only have to flip one person, but I don’t even know where you start with that, given the very different rationales that some of the members have for the decisions they have made.”
Origer plans to give council members a written response summarizing the job descriptions of the two CDC staff members, along with the additional tasks that would disappear with the proposed staffing cut.