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RDA approves pact for Fish

December 19, 2018

The Watertown Redevelopment Authority approved a 2019 contract for its executive director, Kristen Fish, but it was not without some controversy.

The term of the contract is for the calendar year Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2019. The city will pay Fish $97.85 per hour but she can’t exceed 720 hours in the calendar year.

“We’ve had a huge year,” said Robert Marchant, Watertown Redevelopment Authority chairman. “We would’ve never reached where we are today without Kristen’s help. Her toughness and her leadership and her willingness to put in all of her time and effort to support us and our community and the folks downtown makes me 100 percent in support of keeping her under contract to help us take it to the next level.”

Watertown Redevelopment Authority member and Alderman Ken Berg was appreciative of Fish’s efforts but said in 2019 the city has to find the money to fund her position.

“Up until now this position has been paid through TID 5 funds and it hasn’t come out of dollars that we have to find for that purpose,” Berg said. “In 2019, the funds in TID 5 have been depleted because of property acquisition and even earmarked for things we have already used so it’s down to these limited funds as an RDA. I’m very appreciative and supportive of Kristen up to now as a high value, but we’re in the context of not knowing our budget and there is going to be a very big payout when we do close (Jan. 11) on the Daily Times property. That’s going to deplete our dollars and we will become even more reliant on the city for some balance of funds for that transaction to close.”

Berg said without a budget the RDA needs to be careful with what monies it has.

“I’m on board with Kristen in this position, but I think the timeline for me is six months to have a better awareness of our dollars,” he said. “I also think typically we do an evaluation and we look at that position and do a formal evaluation.”

Marchant disagreed.

“The workload moving forward is not going to go down,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a tough pill to swallow sitting next to Kristen and have this be how she is treated in a meeting. I think it could’ve been handled differently. The funding is there. I agree we need a budget. We all agree on it. I am comfortable moving forward and we need the help.”

RDA Vice Chairman Nathan Salas echoed the same sentiments.

“At the end of the day if we don’t have someone pushing the rock up the hill the rest of us might as well go home,” he said.

In other business, the list of names for the town square, which includes Generations Landing, Times Square or Times Terrace, Main Street Square, River Central, Rock River Green, The Quarter at Towne Center and River City Commons will be placed on this April’s ballot for the public to make the decision.

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