Nearly $3.5 million in sales tax collections would go to park, recreation and museum facilities under a proposal approved by the Minot City Council's Community Development Committee Tuesday.
The committee is recommending the council hold a public hearing Dec. 3 and approve the recommended spending.
Voters agreed in June 2011 to re-direct a sales tax for the Northwest Area Water Supply project to infrastructure, tax relief and community facilities. Since taking effect in October, the fund has provided $250,000 to Minot Park District for flood repairs at baseball diamonds. It currently contains more than $3.7 million in collections.
Brian Mathson, maintenance director for Minot Park District, looks around inside the zoo concessions building Tuesday. The building was gutted after the flood and is undergoing repairs.
The park district, Minot State University, Dakota Territory Air Museum, and Minot Recreation Commission applied for nearly $5 million in total, and committee members were receptive to funding nearly all the requests.
The committee is recommending that the air museum receive $500,000 for a building expansion, ramp and taxiway to increase its exhibit space. The committee is recommending the recreation commission receive $287,440 to build an ice skating rink near Perkett School to replace a rink at Longfellow School that was lost in the flood.
Minot State University received the committee's support for $1 million toward Phase III of the Herb Parker Stadium project. Phase III includes construction of a building for concessions, rest rooms, ticketing, media, coaches, suites, meetings and merchandise sales. Total cost is $4 million, and MSU asked that it receive $1 million in each of the next three years as well.
The committee approved the future MSU grants, subject to fund availability.
The park district, which was approved for $1.7 million, was the only applicant not to receive its full request. The park district sought more than $3.2 million for various flood-related repairs.
The committee sought to give the district enough funding to keep the rebuilding going, promising more in the next grant round next spring.
Ron Merritt, parks director, said the work is in various stages, with some completed and some scheduled for next summer. The district has borrowed and used reserve funds and is seeking reimbursement as well as additional funding for projects yet to get started. Merritt said the park district has no problem with the proposed phased funding from the facilities sales tax.
Before finalizing the grants, the council must pass ordinances on first and second reading and approve joint power agreements with the park board and State Board of Higher Education. The process will postpone any award of grants to January at the earliest.
The committee addressed the setting aside of money for a potential, new community-owned facility.
Daryl Somerville, a member of the committee that pushed for the sales tax, said part of the intent was to create a funding method for new facilities, which could include a major event center. He said getting the city's facilities back into operation after the flood is a priority, but beyond that, the city should be looking to the future.
"Should we be looking at, talking about and creating some of our own community facilities as opposed to just using the application process?" he asked. "Should we be taking the lead and thinking of facilities that are needed?"
Committee chairman Dave Lehner voiced a reluctance to set up a savings account for a nonexistent project. However, the committee was open to consider a request if the community initiates it.
"Hopefully, people will start stepping up to the plate with those bigger ideas," committee member Amy Moen said.