Green Isle is backing up talk of improving the city’s economic development efforts with money. The council voted at its Feb. 14 meeting to back a contract with Sibley County Community Development Program Manager Amy Newsom.
The proposed contract is for an average of four hours a week at a cost of $40 per hour. That amount is all-inclusive. It covers  salary, benefits, transportation, printing and other administrative costs, said Sibley County Administrator Roxy Traxler. The city will review the contract in the months to come for possible adjustment if needed. The contract will run from March 1 to the end of 2017. The proposed contract still needs county board approval.
“We’re just looking to cover our costs. We’re not looking to make any money,” Traxler said.
Newsom will help the city with any inquiries from firms interested in relocating to Green Isle or any existing businesses interested in expansion. She will help the city with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund (SMIF) grant. She will also help with grant writing and other economic-development related projects.
Newsome will serve on the city’s EDA board. She will also help the city with a grant application to help Green Isle create a revolving loan fund to help businesses. She has already assisted the city with an application to the USDA.
“Without her, that wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” Panning said of the application.
“I think we’ve got a good start here. It is something we haven’t had here in years,” said Councilor Mark Wentzlaff.
The $40 per-hour fee is “a lot less” than the fee the city considered earlier this winter for hiring a private-sector firm, said Bert Panning, Green Isle’s clerk-treasurer. Councilor Shawn Harms raised a concern, noting the city did not budget for the $6,240 contract with the county in 2017.
Other cities in Sibley County have considered a similar contract with Sibley County. Arlington opted for a private sector firm and Gaylord is considering a proposed contract with the county.

In other action at the Feb. 14 meeting, the Green Isle City Council:
• Paid bills totaling $26,034.81.
• Voted to reapprove the city’s economic development bylaws. The bylaws were initially approved in 1997.
• Heard a report from Brandy Barrett, director of Green Isle Community School. The charter school’s enrollment is at 64 students, a level it hopes will be at least maintained in 2017-18. The school will be hosting an open house March 18. Barrett told the city council plans are in the works to replace its wooden sign in front of the building. The council also discussed the history of lease payments from the school to the city.
• Appointed Lee Ortloff of Peoples Services as the city’s wellhead protection manager.
• OK’d a contract with Fahey & Assoc. to hold four auctions in the city’s industrial park at a cost of $1,500 per auction. They will be held April 8, June 10, Aug. 5 and Oct. 28. Two additional auctions may be held on undetermined dates as well.
• Approved paying Don Melhop $14 per hour for 32 hours of work he did on the city’s behalf. Melhop had initially planned to donate his time to the city. “We can’t have him doing this stuff for free. What if he gets hurt on the job,” said Mayor Joe Kreger.
• Approved paying City Clerk-Treasurer Bert Panning the same rate councilors receive for attending regular meetings ($60) and special meetings ($30).