IRRRB Passes 2020 Fiscal Year Budget at Meeting

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: June 07, 2019 10:05 PM

The IRRRB held a meeting Friday where they covered several topics like the fiscal budget for 2020.


The budget was passed by the board. The budget for the 2020 fiscal year is $41 million, it was $44 million last year.

The meeting took about two hours long. A main topic within the budget was the Giants Ridge Recreation Area.

The summer recreation did not make as much money last year due to a short gulf season. The IRRRB hired a management company several years ago to help increase efficiency at Giants Ridge and asked what changes can be made to the financial condition of Giants Ridge. Some investment will go into equipment and the mountain biking trails.

The commissioners recognized its importance to community members, saying it has delivered a lot over time.

"Usually in an annual budget review we look at what were the changes from last year so we're making some capital improvements to different places out in Giants Ridge there," Mark Phillips, the IRRRB Commissioner, said.

Other topics mentioned in the meeting included 13 development and community infrastructure projects across cities like Aitkin, Chisholm, Crosby, Babbitt, Cook, and more. 

Also a funding request from the Iron Range Higher Education Committee to provide a grant to the Northeast Higher Education District for use by the Iron Range Engineering program.

Also financial support with salaries and transportation for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics(STEAM) summer camps offered by the school districts of Hibbing, Chisholm, St. Louis County, Mt. Iron-Buhl, Mesabi East and Ely.

"We have a fund on school collaboration and cooperation and so we have multiple districts get together and put together a program of summer enrichment where kids from different districts can travel to other districts and take advantage of short term summer curriculum that they might not be able to get in their own district ever," Phillips said. 

One thing the board did not discuss during the meeting was the controversy over the quick hiring of former congressional candidate Joe Radinovich earlier this year. The state ended up changing its hiring rules and Radinovich later resigned.

"We put the amendment under the state government finance bill to make sure the 24 hour hiring is only used for emergency purposes, otherwise postings must be for three weeks like any other agency posting. That's not unusual, the other agencies have done it. It 's been done in this agency in the past.  It's not like it was anything new. It's been done in the past all across the state. Is it right? Probably not, but it has been used," said Rep. Rob Ecklund, representing District 3A in International Falls.

Now the board has to wait for the budget to get approved by Gov. Tim Walz and it has to be approved by June 30 because the new fiscal year starts on July 1.


Alejandra Palacios

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