Cass County Considers Move To Omaha-Council Bluffs Development Agency

PLATTSMOUTH – Cass County commissioners are considering a break from southeast Nebraska counties to join the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency.

MAPA representatives told county commissioners Tuesday that the metropolitan development agency would provide services comparable to Southeast Nebraska Development District, but may have more experience in some aspects.

Commissioner Jim Peterson, a member of the SENDD board, said switching development districts is not a popular idea among the state’s development directors.

State law creates development districts to conduct community needs surveys and provide outreach for state Department of Economic Development programs. Nebraska has seven economic development districts.

Cass County is one of 15 counties surrounding Lincoln from Seward to Richardson counties. It specializes in grant administration, housing rehabilitation, special studies and financial packaging.

Commissioners tabled the issue expecting to discuss the matter with Tom Bliss, who was named executive director of SENDD in March.

In January, SENDD reported it had secured $1.8 million in federal block grant funds in 2016.

Funds include $350,000 for downtown revitalization in Brownville, and $700,000 for housing in Deshler and Fairbury.

In 2016, Auburn and Falls City sought commercial rehabilitation applications.

MAPA Director Greg Youell said there was a concern that counties could switch development districts frequently, but said MAPA feels counties need to be able to make long-term decisions that are in their best interest.

Plattsmouth Administrator Erv Portis said there is contract language that suggests towns in a county can not use a development district unless the county is a member of that district.


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