The Columbia County Board of Supervisors would exert more direct control over the county’s economic development entity, under a proposed set of bylaw revisions presented Thursday to the County Board’s Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee oversees the Columbia County Economic Development Corp., which is fully funded by the county, although it is not a county department.

Supervisor Andy Ross of Poynette, who is president of the organization’s Executive Committee, said the proposal calls for the County Board to appoint three of its members to the organization’s board, and for all three to also serve on the Executive Committee.

Finance Committee Member James Foley of the town of Leeds, said he thinks the change is a step in the right direction to ensure county elected officials have a stronger say over how the group spends money and time.

Currently, Ross is the only County Board member who is a voting member of the organization’s Board of Directors, although Supervisor John Tramburg of Fall River is a non-voting member.

The proposal calls for three County Board members to be voting members on the group’s Board of Directors, which is composed mostly of representatives of various business sectors, such as health care, financial, agribusiness and manufacturing.

It also would expand the total membership of the Executive Committee from its current number, five, to eight or nine, Ross said.

There would no requirement that the County Board appointees hold an office on the Executive Committee, such as president, vice president or secretary-treasurer.

County Board Chairman Vern Gove of Portage said he thinks it’s important for elected supervisors to have at least some say on issues such as group’s long-term strategic plan or the priority of its activities.

Among the things the organization has done, in recent years, are business retention visits to existing Columbia County enterprises, participation in a multi-county program to aid and encourage starting new businesses and working with businesses interested in locating in Columbia County.

The Finance Committee took no action on the bylaw proposals, because Foley said he would like more time to study all the proposals.

However, Ross said the group’s Board of Directors is likely to make a decision about bylaws before the Finance Committee’s next meeting in March.

Ross also noted that advertising continues for a successor to Executive Director Nancy Elsing, who is working with the organization part time after her Dec. 31 retirement, until her successor is picked – hopefully before the end of the month, Ross said.

Ross clarified, too, that the $50,000 salary the economic group’s board approved is for a full year of work, but she won’t be paid that much because she’s not expected to remain on the job for more than a few months.

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