Knoxville Council relents, pays GREDA

Michelle Anstett

In a 4-2 decision, with two absences, the Knoxville City Council on Monday approved to continue giving $7,500 to Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association for 2008.

At its Jan. 7 meeting, the council argued about whether or not the city has been reaping the benefits of five years of payments to the group. Mayor Phil Myers and Alderman Lester Naslund, Ward 1, were vocal in their opposition to re-approving the money at both meetings.

“We need our money to run this city,” Myers said. “You gotta take the town into consideration. I’m sure not gonna go out to the cemetery to mow grass.”

Naslund agreed with the mayor, questioning whether the council could approve an amended amount of funding to GREDA. Instead of giving the group $7,500 annually, he suggested giving them $5,000 and keeping the balance for other town projects. The GREDA representatives present, Kit Wilcox and Dick Johnson, said they had no idea whether the council could take such action.

Naslund also worried that if GREDA does begin bringing businesses into the area and new residents begin moving into Knoxville, the city would not be able to keep up with the growth in population.

On the other side, Ward 2 alderman Kirk Heller was adamant in his support of continuing to fund GREDA, saying, “You can’t be defeatist. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand.

“Where are you going to get the money (for city operations) when people start leaving Knoxville? We’re going to spend $10,000 on flowers, but not $7,500 on GREDA? Come on.”

Ward 2 alderman Terry Pool took issue with the fact that the council was willing to approve a $25,000 advance to the library and approximately $14,000 for the purchase of a new Bobcat, but aldermen and the mayor were balking at the idea of investing money in the future of the town. Alderman Edward Mahar, Ward 3, said he had not made up his mind as to which way he planned to vote until Monday’s meeting.

“You’ve got to have your name in the pot to expect anything out of (economic development) at all,” he told the council.

In the end, the council voted 4-2 for approval of the funding, with Heller, Pool, Mahar and newly installed Ward 3 alderman Rob Derham in favor. Naslund and Ward 1 Alderman Denny Dean were opposed. Ward 4 Aldermen Tom Worden and Bart Randall were absent from the meeting.

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