Rochester City Council members want to evaluate how much the city contributes to funding Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency activities.
“As we move into Phase 2 of DMC, I would like to kind of do a checkpoint and look at some of the goals, where we’re at, some of the financial obligations and partnerships,” Council President Randy Staver said during a budget discussion last week. “Maybe some of those need to be adjusted. I think they need to be adjusted.”
For 2019, the DMC EDA is expecting $2.57 million from the city for it’s operational budget, which is a decrease from the nearly $3 million it received in 2016, but up by 3 percent from the nearly $2.5 million provided last year.
Mayo Clinic, the other primary funder of DMC EDA operations, is providing nearly $1.28 million this year, up from the $915,000 in 2016 and the $1.27 million last year.
Lisa Clarke, the DMC EDA executive director, said the organization has also received funding through grants.
Council Member Michael Wojcik agreed with Staver in making the funding split a topic for future budget discussions of the city budget.
“It is a private EDA, of which the public is funding 70 percent of it, and we need to have a very serious discussion of what percentage we should be paying, but I don’t think it’s 70 percent,” he said.
Clarke said the annual process to develop the EDA budget and identify revenue sources will start next month and will include the city in discussions, along with Mayo Clinic representatives.
Erin Sexton, Mayo Clinic’s director of enterprise community engagement, said the process has been working.
“Mayo Clinic is supportive of the process that the city, DMC (Corp.), and the EDA has used to determine budgets and priorities to advance the DMC initiative,” she said in a written statement. “Mayo continues to contribute to the annual budget of the EDA and has increased our contribution in recent years. The work of the DMCC, City of Rochester, and the EDA is showing strong results for Rochester and state of Minnesota.”
Clarke agreed, noting funding stability will be important to maintain the project’s forward momentum.
“DMC is pretty young in terms of the work we are doing,” she said.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, who helped craft the DMC legislation in 2013 as a state lawmaker, has suggested the EDA could find additional private sources of funding or revenue.
“It frustrates me to see so much of that money going to an EDA, an organization, to pay for activities and people. It’s important work — I want to be clear on that — but it was our intent that that would be paid for privately,” she said.
So far, the city has contributed at least $47.5 million of the $128 million required by the DMC legislation, a portion of that is the funding provided to the DMC EDA.