City council approves economic development MOU with Rancheria

By a 3-2 vote (with Mayor Quincy McCourt, and Councilmembers Thomas Herrera and Kevin Stafford voting aye, and Councilmembers Mendy Schuster and Russ Brown voting nay) the Susanville City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Susanville Indian Rancheria to equally share the costs of a new city employee who will be charged with the creation of economic development projects to benefit both governmental entities.

According to the staff report, “When one agency provides opportunity for industrial growth, job creation, enhancing community amenities, better education, provision of public safety service and other essential community services our community as a whole benefits.”

According to the MOU, the “parties agree to jointly share the cost of a staff position for the purpose of implementing economic development activities that include but are not limited to, an Economic Development Implementation Plan, coordinating with local, state, and federal entities, marketing the region within a variety of economic development impact areas, and coordinating and delivering projects.”

The staff report seeking approval of the MOU described two possible positions — an Economic Development Director or an Economic Development Coordinator. The total cost, to be split equally between the city and the SIR, would be $208,000 ($132,280 in salary and $76,280 in benefits) for the director position and $131,220 ($87,440 in salary and $43,780 in benefits) for the coordinator position.

The numbers don’t match, but the staff report claims the financial impact for both the city and the SIR would be $147,000 per year for the director position and $108,250 for the coordinator position.

While the city “will adhere to its established hiring procedures for department heads, at least two SIR representatives will be invited to participate in the interview panel.”

The city and SIR also agree to pay for consulting services not to exceed $50,00 per year.

In addition, the city administrator will establish a steering committee for economic development comprised of representatives from the city and the SIR.

As a sovereign nation, only tribal members may attend SIR meetings, and the SIR’s opinion of and/or approval of this MOU remain unknown.

The agreement, expected to be signed by Arian Hart, tribal chairman and Quincy McCourt, Susanville mayor, expires June 30, 2027 unless extended by mutual written agreement.

After the vote, McCourt said, “This is a big accomplishment, and we up here are going to be making a lot of effort for the five of us to work together, so we’re comfortable with the votes and we’re still going to collaborate on behalf of the community.”