(AEN) - The purpose of Economic Development initiatives are to create additional prosperity in our community and to develop additional sources of non-residential tax assessment. This additional tax revenue helps to lessen the tax burden of residential tax payers. In other words, funds allocated for economic development initiatives are an investment of taxpayers' dollars with the intention and the expectation that it will ultimately result in a lower tax burden for homeowners. Therefore, if economic development processes cost more than they bring in, then they are not effective and cannot be justified in the long term.
Looking at Economic Development efforts in Leduc for the past number of years, what we see is very high costs (over $2million in the past 6 years, for example) but very little, in my opinion, in terms of demonstrated results for this large investment of tax payer funds.
For the past number of years I have raised concern about this issue. My personal opinion is that that the EDA's performance, or lack of it, has not been evaluated in terms of deliverables or strict results, but on political considerations.
Please understand my position: I think those involved in the EDA have been good people and that they have made good efforts. I put the blame for the lack of value to taxpayers, that I perceive, on the processes that the City and Leduc County have allowed to take place.
Two and a half years ago, I strongly advocated to Council that the City of Leduc needed to have its own Economic development capability. This would mean re-allocating funds away from the EDA and towards funding an internal Economic development officer position that could focus on Leduc's needs - ones that were not being addressed, and could not be addressed, by the EDA due to its regional focus.
This, finally, is now the direction that council and the EDA are starting to look at. There are still many issues in this area and it will take real focus and a commitment to results to see the job being done correctly.