SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council voted unanimously yesterday to allocate an additional $26,000 to the Sheridan Educational and Economic Development Authority in Fiscal Year 2022, in order to better match contributions being made by Sheridan College.
The city, which had allocated $100,000 to the organization in its preliminary budget, will now allocate $126,000 to the joint powers board.
According to state statute regarding joint powers boards, members of the joint powers board are expected to split costs evenly, according to Kerns. SEEDA is a joint operation between the city and Sheridan College that focuses on economic development projects in the city. The reason for the funding increase is to ensure the city is holding up its end of the bargain in splitting the costs evenly with Sheridan College.
The college currently estimates it is spending $150,000 a year on SEEDA-related costs including project management, facilities management and record keeping, Kerns said. The city currently only spends $24,000 on accounting for SEEDA, plus their $100,000 annual contribution to the organization. Raising that contribution to $126,000 brings the city’s spending in line with the college’s, Kerns said.
The change was recommended by city attorney Brendon Kerns, who also presented a preliminary funding agreement with SEEDA allowing the organization to be funded with $126,000 over the next three years. While the fiscal 2022 allocation was approved by council, the broader funding agreement will be voted on during a special meeting of the council June 14.
The additional city dollars will go into SEEDA’s maintenance sinking fund, which can be utilized for needed maintenance on facilities owned by the joint powers board.
“This is the ultimate goal — making sure they’re fiscally sound so they don’t have to go back to participating agencies (and ask for more money),” Kerns said.
While the one-time increase was approved unanimously by the council, councilors were more divided on whether they would approve the three-year funding agreement next week.
“I absolutely believe that the city needs to fulfill its obligation, but I would strongly disagree with having this as a three-year contract,” Councilor Kristen Jennings said. “This is something that needs to be revisited every year for transparency for our citizens.”
The preliminary contract includes a right to renegotiation clause, which states the amount the city contributes to the organization could change if the college alters its contributions. Councilor Aaron Linden said the city would have to review and approve any changes at that time, which would allow for transparency to citizens.
“I don’t necessarily have an issue with the length of this, and I think seeing it through to fruition of SEEDA getting on its own feet, so to say, is a benefit to everyone,” Linden said.
Kerns said that, when council considers the contract next week, it can be approved as recommended or with an altered term of time. The council can also decide to reject the agreement entirely.