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Hiram withholds funding for economic development agency
by Adam Elrod
February 13, 2013 09:31 AM | 1608 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paulding Economic Development is facing an unexpected budget cut after the city of Hiram voted not to sign a contract to fund the organization this year.

The organization is a public/private partnership formed in 2010. It works in a number of economic development areas —from providing a single point of contact and information for new employers to business retention and marketing.

It has been funded by the cities of Dallas and Hiram, Paulding County government and the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce in the past, said executive director Jamie Gilbert.

Last year Dallas and Hiram paid $50,000 apiece to fund the development. The chamber paid $100,000 and the county paid $200,000, which gave the organization a budget of $400,000, Gilbert said.

Hiram City Council voted Feb. 5 not to sign a 12-month contract with the organization.

“I did not expect not to have a contract with our investors,” he said.

Councilwoman Teresa Philyaw made the motion not to sign the contract, and was supported by all council members but Derrick Battle, who supported signing a new contract.

She said the council cannot afford to sponsor the organization at this time. The city was forced to use money from a variety of sources, in addition to usual sources like sales taxes, to balance its latest budget.

The council is trying to stay away from taking money out of its reserve fund, she said.

“Our main thing is to chip away at our deficit,” Philyaw said.

Also the Dallas City Council will not vote to sign a contract until it has worked out issues it is having with its budget, said Mayor Boyd Austin. Gilbert said he thinks a deal can be made with Dallas at some point to continue its current funding level.

“There may be a time we bring it back up to Hiram,” he said.

Until a deal can be made with the cities, the organization will be relying on the chamber and county to fund them.

“The contract with the chamber will not be $100,000 this year,” Gilbert said.

Organization officials realize times are hard and budgets have become tighter, he said.

“That [budgets] is what everybody is looking at,” Gilbert said.

He said he does not foresee any problems with entering into some kind of agreement with the chamber and county. They should have them signed by the end of February.

Through all of the changes Gilbert is still optimistic about the organization’s budget, he said.

Until the contracts are signed the organization will not know what its full budget will be, he said.

“We are looking at our budget and cutting some things,” Gilbert said.

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