About $3.5 million in sales tax collections will go to community facilities projects that include flood repairs and university stadium improvements.
The Minot City Council voted following public hearings Monday to approve the grants from a fund created last October when a sales tax for the Northwest Area Water Supply project expired. In June 2011, voters had approved converting the tax to infrastructure improvements, property-tax relief and community facilities.
Three of the grant requests were approved Monday without public comment. They were:
- $500,000 to Dakota Territory Air Museum for a building expansion, ramp and taxiway. Total cost for the building is more than $1.35 million, but the museum has the opportunity to obtain $1.25 million from the Texas Flying Legends Museum in Houston.
- $287,440 to Minot Recreation Commission to build a new outdoor ice skating rink at Perkett Elementary to replace a flooded rink at Longfellow Elementary. The city has $26,910 in money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that also could go toward the rink replacement.
- $1.7 million to Minot Park District for flood recovery and restoration of parks, playgrounds, golf courses, pools and trails, with the understanding that the district can submit additional requests in 2013. The district had requested $3.2 million.
The council voted 12-1 to approve $1 million for Minot State University for a building at Herb Parker Stadium that would provide concessions, restrooms, ticketing, media boxes, coaches suites and meeting and merchandise sales areas. MSU has spent more than $3.9 million already on stadium improvements, and the $1 million is part of $4 million needed for the proposed building. MSU requested $1 million in each of the next three years as well, to which the council had no objection. Nor did it make any promises.
Kristen Boen of Minot spoke at the public hearing to urge the council not to tie up $4 million into the future because of other facilities needs that the city might have. Representatives of the MSU Board of Regents and Alumni Board spoke on behalf of the project.
Council member Scott Knudsvig said he has no objection to a $1 million request for this year, but that does not commit future councils to additional money in coming years.
Council member Larry Frey cast the only vote against the MSU funding.
"This time it's only a million but I know down the road it will be another million and another million," he said.
Several council members took the position of member Bob Miller, who said that MSU's project will promote activity that generates more sales tax.
"I find it to be an economic generator at the very highest level," Miller said. The stadium will be used by area public and private schools as well as the university.
The application deadline for the next round of grants is June 1. The year-old fund contained about $3.7 million after a year of collections. The council had previously awarded $250,000 from the fund to the park district to repair flood-damaged baseball diamonds.
In other business, the council approved $156,336 in interest buydown on a state PACE loan to United Pulse Trading. The company is constructing a plant to process peas, lentils, chick peas and dry edible beans. The Minot facility will be the company's first to mill product into flour and separate the protein, starch and fiber for sale to the food industry. The $20 million facility should be operational during the first quarter of 2013, employing 45 to 50 people.
The council approved zoning to turn the Virgil Workman Village into a mobile-home park and residential development. Property owner Nathan Smith requested the manufactured-home designation to enable Federal Emergency Management Agency temporary housing units to remain once the federal government ends its post-flood housing mission next June. He also plans to develop affordable housing on other portions of the property. The council received written protests from area residents citing drainage concerns, traffic congestion, property devaluation and other potential problems with a tenant neighborhood.
City attorney John Van Grinsven reported that a settlement has been reached with Carl and Barbara Clemetson over an error in a buyout contract. The city intended to offer $112,000 but the contract provided by the city's legal firm was written for more than $121,000. Under the agreement, the Clemetsons will get $117,500. The city will pay $112,000 and Swanson & Warcup, the law firm handling the buyouts, will make up the difference.