A group of 10 government employee credit unions, caught in a bitter standoff a year ago with the Missouri Department of Transportation and forced to relocate because of a state budget squeeze, is making headway this month finding new sites, with one CU rebranding and opting for a community charter.
Choosing the renaming route effective this week is the former $13.8 million District 4 Highway CU of Lee’s Summit, now called Summit Ridge CU with a state-approved community charter and in a facility two miles from its former headquarters.
“We’re in a good location but we look at what happened as a positive opportunity,” said Brenda Rempe, president/CEO and one of the CU managers of the small highway CUs unsuccessfully fighting the state order to vacate their old sites by December 2012.
Rempe said four other Division Highway CUs with district offices in both rural and metro areas of the state have also relocated but hers is the only one so far that applied with the Missouri Division of Credit Unions for a community charter.
“I am not sure if the others will but it is an individual decision based on their own markets,” said Rempe, noting a number of the very rural CUs may simply decide to move without applying for a community charter.
During the battle with the state over the highway CUs, the Missouri Credit Union Association had also tried to muster legislative support to block the relocations and the payroll cutoffs on grounds it would cause undue financial injury in the communities. A number of the workers were employees of the state receiving government paychecks.
“Right now we are in a hunt for a new site and we’ll decide whether we rent or buy,” said Linda Klaproth, manager of the $11 million Division 10 Highway Employees of Sikeston, who a year ago described the “nightmare” of the budget cutbacks with long-time CU employees threatened with losing jobs.
Just how many of the CUs might also apply for a community charter was uncertain. “We’re just not doing that now,” said a spokeswoman for one of the CUs, $17 million District Highway 2 CU of Macon.