Parks, Recreation merger needs perfect execution

There is no question that Minot Recreation Department and Minot Park District need to be merged and should have been for some time. There is little question that the park district manning the responsibilities is the right thing for the people of Minot. While it might not generate the passion or headlines of other issues facing the city, it is still an important plan, a smart council move and will in the long run, save taxpayers money.

Those are all good reasons to get the merger complete.

However, it is also a complicated move, as revealed in an August 22 Minot Daily News story following a committee meeting at which the issue was discussed.

Complications include no planning for this in either the city or park district budget for 2019, state limits on transfer of funds, staffing/pay rate concerns and the transfer of property. None of these are challenges easily overcome or reversible by a simple act of the city council.

As discussed this week, mitigating actions are limited, complex and involve other entities. None will necessarily be quick or easy.

While this vision is an excellent one, it is also one that needs to be executed flawlessly. The two guiding principles should be: services should be better for the consumer, more efficient and more responsive; and this needs to be executed in such a way as to save taxpayer dollars. Other goals are of lesser importance.

In order to fulfill these principles, to achieve the ultimate goal and improve parks and recreation as a whole, this merger might not be able to happen this year. Maybe it takes until the 2020 budget year; maybe it takes more legwork.

It’s worth the time and effort to complete this goal. No reasonable person should criticize the city or parks district for taking the time to do this right.

So, let’s do it right.