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Area groups seek $1.3M from city officials

Eugene Robinson, left, and Art Wanner, both of the Stark County Veterans Memorial Association in Dickinson, display a sketch of the Stark County Memorial Thursday at a Dickinson City Commission special meeting at City Hall. Commissioners listened to groups ask for almost $1.34 million for subsidizing budgets. The Veterans Memorial Association asked for $100,000 to build the memorial for soldiers at Memorial Park in Dickinson.

Representatives from 14 Dickinson area organizations asked the Dickinson City Commission for almost $1.34 million -- more than four times the amount awarded last year -- for their 2013 budgets Thursday during a special meeting at City Hall.

The Roughrider Commission asked for $250,000 to replace bleachers at the Dickinson State University Outdoor Arena. The Veterans Memorial Association plans to use $100,000 to build a memorial for soldiers at Memorial Park. Dickinson Parks and Recreation had the largest request for $580,000 to improve facilities and infrastructure, such as city trails, park development and the bandshell at Memorial Park.

The commission subsidized $277,750 in taxes to 11 agencies this fiscal year.

Mayor Dennis Johnson attributed the increase to high-dollar requests from organizations that did not ask for funding last year. The Stark County Veterans Memorial Association, Dickinson Parks and Recreation and Dickinson Roughrider Commission were such groups, bringing $930,000 in requests.

"Some of these projects will occur once every 20 or 30 years," Johnson said.

An oil boom in western North Dakota has brought more business to the area, and the groups are stretched for funds and resources, said Ray Ann Kilen, Dickinson Regional director for the North Dakota Small Business Development Center.

"I think in my mind it's a reflection of demand on every program to try to stretch and grow," he said. "There are so many needs and demands that people are looking at any potential resource to see how they can fund to meet their needs."

Giving funds could turn into a "slippery slope," Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said.

"We hear your expansion pain, we hear your budget constraints, and we are glad that we have some financing ... to be able to help in any way we can when it is feasible, but at some point, our money is going to start slowing down and our resources that we have available to do this as well," he said.

Commissioners will make the final call for allocating funds Oct. 1 when the 2013 budget is reviewed.