The La Grande City Council and the Urban Renewal Agency, which is made up of the council members, passed their 2019 goals on Wednesday night.

The council and URA had previously held work sessions to discuss what their priorities are for the upcoming year.

Among the city council priorities is a meeting with the Union County Commissioners to discuss multiple big topic items — such as creating a special district for the library as well as a parks and recreation district, economic development and the need for a new law enforcement building. There has not been a lot of discussion about any of these topics. However, with new commissioners Matt Scarfo and Paul Anderes now in place, the city council can schedule meetings it had put off during the transition.

At the January city council meeting, the council learned through its annual audit that the city had an unanticipated $500,000. The council expressed interest in putting 50 to 75 percent of the increased funds into the general reserve with the rest of the money going toward capital improvement funding. The projects needing financial assistance include a new roof for Cook Memorial Library and the construction of a new police station.

During its priorities work session the URA was focused on modifying the Call for Projects program, which annually invests in local business projects. The agency has acknowledged the program’s flaws and discussed how it could be revised — or possibly even dissolved, due to the number of projects that fall through and problems with how the money is dispersed among them.

The URA also discussed streamlining the La Grande Business and Technology Park’s application process to possibly gain more interest from businesses. The URA offers a monetary incentive to businesses who move there but the application process is extensive and often dissuades people from applying, according to URA Manager Robert Strope during the previous work session.

The URA discussed dividing the monetary incentives into separate groups that are offered to businesses who apply based on the following intended areas of investment: blighted buildings, the technology park or the traded sector.

The URA will meet for a work session Monday night to further discuss the Call for Projects program. No official decisions will be made during this meeting.

See complete story in Friday's Observer

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