City tables BCTF grant fundsThe Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee tabled an item that would have provided $75,000 in sales tax funds to Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in 2013 during its regular meeting Tuesday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee tabled an item that would have provided $75,000 in sales tax funds to Buffalo City Tourism Foundation in 2013 during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The action had been approved by the Stutsman County Commission earlier in day. By tabling the action the city effectively puts the topic on hold.
BCTF uses the funds to provide grants for tourism-related events such as the kite festival and rodeo and staffing for tourist sites such as the Frontier Village, Stutsman County Museum and Fort Seward Interpretive Center. The funds would have been paid from Jamestown sales tax collections.
“Sales tax dollars are dedicated to economic development,” said Katie Andersen, mayor of Jamestown. “It is a contradiction to the intent of the sales tax dollars. That is why I won’t be in support of the grant.”
Andersen moved to table the motion until later this year when it could be discussed in conjunction with a renegotiation of the funding BCTF receives from lodging and restaurant taxes in Jamestown.
The agreement where the city pays a portion of the lodging and restaurant tax to BCTF expires at the end of 2012. It will be renegotiated during the budget process this summer.
The motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Pat Nygaard, city councilman, and Andersen voting to table and councilmen Charlie Kourajian and Ramone Gumke voting not to table the issue. Councilman Ken Schulz was absent.
Andersen then challenged Kourajian as having a conflict of interest because he works part time during the summer at the Stutsman County Museum. Kourajian abstained from a second vote, which resulted in the motion to table the grant money passing by a 2-1 vote with Gumke still dissenting.
The committee did approve $65,000 per year in operating funds for BCTF. The motion passed unanimously.
The committee also approved allowing Frontier Village to use a previously unused construction grant for work on an existing building.
FVA said they had not used about $13,500 in grant money from 2011. They requested a total of $23,580 for work on the Eldridge Hall which had been moved to the Frontier Village. The work was to repair and paint the exterior and to Sheetrock the interior to use the building for displays.
The committee approved reallocating the $13,500 to FVA for the project but required they work through BCTF for other funding. The motion passed 3-1 with Gumke, Andersen and Nygaard in favor and Kourajian dissenting.
The committee also heard from Steve Windish, engineer for Ulteig Engineering, regarding the Business Loop East project.
Property owners in the project area had complained at previous meetings that construction delays and problems had harmed their profitability in 2011.
“I’m a businessperson and I know what it is to have a loss of business,” Windish said. “We tried to limit the loss.”
Windish described efforts to maintain signs and detours so all businesses had customer access through the project. He presented the committee with a packet of work logs and photographs from the project.
He agreed that what the businesses experienced during the project was normal.
“But if there was anything we could do to alleviate the problems, we did,” Windish said.
The committee took no action but agreed there was no option to compensate the businesses in the construction project area.
The committee then approved an amendment to the contract with Ulteig Engineers to compensate them an additional $69,000 for work anticipated this summer in the loop.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org