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City Administrator: "several factors" involved in decision to place EDHA Director on leave

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The East Grand Forks City Administrator says there are several factors that warranted putting Economic Development Housing Authority Director Jim Richter on leave, including Richter signing an unpaid 510,000 dollar loan between Boardwalk Enterprises and the city of East Grand Forks.

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Back in 2006 WDAZ questioned EDHA Executive Director Jim Richter about a business that was 350,000 dollars behind in rent in the city owned River Walk Center. Richter replied, "Have we made mistakes some where along the line, absolutely, we are not infallible. I mean we do not have a crystal ball, and frankly there are a lot of times, I'd like to give someone else the key and say you make the decisions."

Eight years later, East Grand Forks City administrator David Murphy is looking at decisions that Richter has made since then.

"What I can tell you is that there is several factors that went into my decision to place Mr. Richter on Administrative leave," said Murphy.

And, that includes signing off that business loan that was not repaid to the city. Richter has held the Executive Director position with the Board since the mid-1980's and oversaw actions taken to bring back businesses to downtown after the 1997 flood, which today many consider a success.

"Particularly the RiverWalk Center, that brought a lot of the restaurants that we are known for and that attracts people to the city," said Murphy.

Murphy, who has only been the city administrator for 7 months, says the current situation with the EDHA needed be looked into, saying, "It showed as something that needed some investigation and some further review on."

Murphy says a future joint meeting between the EDHA Board and the city council will decide their next move regarding Richter's future as executive director

Murphy says he can put the executive director of the EDHA on leave but only the city council can terminate someone in that position. We were unable to reach Jim Richter for a comment.

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