Local reaction to Bonding Bill
Wadena city leaders reacted to news that local projects were left out of the 2012 bonding bill, passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate, with the possibility of squeezing in through a DEED grant before the end of the summer.
Mayor Wayne Wolden said he was in contact with Mark Philips of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and Philips said he had agreed to move the project quickly.
Wolden also said he was optimistic that since DEED had invested $750,000 in planning and design for the proposed Wadena Regional Health and Wellness Center, it had a strong chance of being one of the projects to get in on the roughly $50 million set aside to be distributed to some local projects at the discretion of DEED.
"Communities around Minnesota could put in applications to be able to receive parts of that. Our senators and representatives are telling us that we need to do that," Wolden said.
He said he hoped they would have an answer within 60 days, and was keeping up with what was happening with legislators.
Senator Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas) offered an amendment to put Wadena's project specifically back into the bonding bill and reduce the general DEED allocation by that amount.
Senator Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, voted in favor of the amendment.
The amendment did not go through, and Hoffman voted against the bonding bill.
Don Davis of Forum Communications reported that Representative Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail, was out for surgery and did not cast a vote.
The bonding situation was also discussed during the Wadena City Council meeting.
City administrator Brad Swenson said there was a glimmer of hope for the wellness center, although it would be up against other local projects proposed by cities like St. Paul, St. Cloud and Rochester that also want to get in on the DEED funds.
Council member Don Niles said it was a political issue, and some legislators did not want local projects at all, but said Wadena's project is also about tornado recovery.
He said he wanted to thank the local senators and representatives for their work in trying to get the Wadena project through.
Wolden told the Pioneer Journal the city is not making a decision yet about what to do if the proposed Wadena Regional Wellness Center is denied by DEED.
In September 2011, the Wadena community center organization and the city council explored an alternative plan to use a building from Otsego if state funding fell through.