Members of the City Council's Community Development Committee have their work cut out for them.
Community groups have requested more than $5 million from the city sales tax next year and $3 million in future years. The fund currently sits at $3.7 million.
Minot State University is asking for $1 million next year for ongoing improvements at Herb Parker Stadium, but MSU is also asking for $1 million in each of the following three years to complete a new facility for concessions, restrooms, ticketing, coaches suites, media space, merchandise sales and meeting space. The university has already spent nearly $4 million on stadium renovations. Dakota Territory Air Museum is requesting $500,000 for another expansion, this time for an addition onto an exhibition building. The Minot Recreation Commission, which is seeking $287,440 to replace a skating rink at Longfellow Elementary that was destroyed by the flood in 2011. The Minot Park Board is asking for more than $3.2 million for a variety of flood-related repairs.
Tax revenue will continue to flow into the account, but the hard part will be deciding how to best allocate that money. To those who would criticize the requests, remember the purposes of this redirected fund. A portion of it is intended to help community groups expand, repair and renovate facilities, which is what the current requests would do.
Contributing to the air museum expansion makes good sense to us, as does replacing the destroyed ice rink. The park district has so many projects under way that all require funding, so helping the district during its long recovery is a good investment. An earlier request from MSU drew criticism and was eventually withdrawn. This request is smaller, and, again, meets the definition of helping a community facility.
Because all requests fit with the fund's purpose, the members of the committee responsible for divvying up the funds face a tough task. Finding the right way to move forward certainly can be done, but it won't be easy.