An initial budget draft for the Minot Park District in 2013 projects an overall spending increase of 14 percent about half of it for flood recovery.
Members of the Minot Park Board got a first look at a spending plan Monday. They will be working on the draft in the coming weeks to develop a preliminary budget. A public hearing will be held toward the end of September.
The $9.67 million initial budget includes $461,800 in capital improvements and maintenance projects that aren't flood related.
Ron Merritt, parks director, said the park district could complete or come close to completing its flood recovery projects next year. The budget proposes a $3.5 million bond issue to pay for a portion of the work. The district also has about $500,000 in a building fund and access to a $1.5 million line of bank credit. Whether a bank loan is needed or how much hasn't been determined.
The park board voted to request that the Minot City Council designate half of the sales tax dollars coming into the Community Facilities Fund to the park district for the duration of the sales tax. The board estimated current collections at $3 million a year.
The board's intention is to initially use the sales tax dollars to pay for flood recovery projects or possibly pay down the bond needed to pay for those projects. Board member Connie Feist said taxpayers shouldn't be asked for a property-tax increase for projects that are eligible for help from sales taxes that they already have paid.
"I truly believe that is what that funding is for," she said. "There's been an outcry in this community to get our parks back."
In requesting half the sales tax in perpetuity, the park board's intent once recovered from the flood is to prioritize projects that fall under its umbrella, from the zoo to ball fields. The money would go to fund those priorities and the city council would not be having to weigh a golf course project against an ice project at Maysa in determining grants.
The budget draft doesn't include Community Facilities funding at this time. It does show a large income increase over the 2011 and 2012 budgets. This year's revenue projection was down because of flood-damaged attractions. Along with projecting more income next year as park facilities are repaired, the district's valuation is up significantly. That enables the district to raise more money without increasing the mill levy.
Overall, the district is projecting a mill levy of 33.94 mills, up from 32.62 mills budgeted for 2012.
About 7.3 percent of the budget increase is not flood-related but reflects the higher cost of operations, including salaries. Board member Robert Petry encouraged the board to consider pay bonuses to attract employees and also to keep them on board for three years. The board was receptive to the idea as a way to come up to full staffing and decrease the cost of hiring extra help.