Vienna City Council members find themselves in a bit of a quandary over the idea of creating a position for a development director versus balancing the budget. The question appears to be whether the cost of a development director would be offset by revenue such a person might eventually bring to the city.
Vienna has done an admirable job in recent years of maintaining a balanced budget – making the kinds of difficult decisions many have had to make in order to ensure they are not living beyond their means. As of last week’s meeting, however, the proposals for the 2014-1015 fiscal year put the city $462,461 over budget. Cuts must be made. Moving money from the capital reserve fund should be a last resort.
Already $12,400 a year is spent on membership fees for the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council and the Economic Roundtable. While these two organizations aim to promote interest in the region, Councilman Bruce Rogers is right to question how much good those memberships are doing specifically for Vienna. Perhaps this discussion can serve as a catalyst for conversations with those two groups in order to help the city get its money’s worth.
It is understandable that Mayor Randy Rapp and some other council members want a dedicated development director whose focus will be purely on Vienna. But right now, the individual efforts of Rapp and council members, combined with the work of the Regional Council and Economic Roundtable may have to suffice.
There has not yet been even a job description written, nor a position formally created for a Vienna development director. There is not much to undo. Council should cut the proposed salary for such a position from this year’s budget, but use the coming year to examine its relationship with other development groups, and determine whether current city resources are being used in the best way to recruit and retain new businesses, and encourage current businesses to grow.
By this time next year, however, should council determine Vienna’s needs are not being served by outside sources – and the budget is more forgiving – the idea of a development director for the city will certainly warrant another look.