The Downtown Dickinson Association requested $50,000 in funds from the city at Tuesday's meeting of the city commissioners.
Kristi Schwartz, DDA board president, said $20,000 would be sufficient, though, for the 2019 fiscal year.
A compromise of $40,000 was ultimately reached by commissioners.
"My proposal is a request to include funding for a continuance of the Downtown Dickinson Association Improvement District's engagement of services to support the city of Dickinson, the downtown plan and the town square project," Schwartz said.
The nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating a vibrant downtown through effective development, communication, promotion and education.
The DDA boasts 85 members.
In August 2017, the city approved funding to support the completion of the town square project, specifically $40,000 to hire an architectural firm to review city plans for the project, gain public input through forums, revise project renderings based on that input and assemble fundraising information to support the DDA's capital campaign for the project.
"The goal of this support is to help coordinate future public and private investment downtown," Schwartz said.
The minimum of $20,000 was suggested by the DDA's immediate expenses.
"From our budget, there are some things we could be taking care of regarding town square fundraising expenses that could be in a conversation later," Schwartz said.
Commissioner Sarah Trustem asked about the existing shortfalls in the DDA's budget.
Membership is strong, as is event income, Schwartz said.
"We have office expenses, for sure, but our office space is donated and so there are no current utilities," she said. "Our biggest expense, of course, is staff."
Commissioner Carson Steiner called Schwartz's description of the DDA's efforts "humble."
"I'm very impressed with the amount of work you've got done," he said. "This is the farthest this has ever gone and it's the best we've ever seen our money spent. I want to give you guys a round of applause for your hard work."
Steiner advocated giving the full $50,000 amount to the DDA, while Trustem suggested giving $25,000. Steiner suggested the compromise amount of $40,000.
Trustem also applauded the DDA's efforts.
"I think it's important for any entity that's receiving public dollars to show us where those expenditures are going," she remarked. "I think that would be a good way for us to show our due diligence."
The funds will come from the city's 30% of the 1 cent sales tax.
"We need to take a hard look at what the expectations are in the future for everyone involved with these projects," Mayor Scott Decker said. "We'll get them through this year, and to cover some of the unknowns."
He added, "The expectations are going to change."
City Administrator Joe Gaa suggested that the city could approve such financial support as part of its budget sessions, rather than through separate motions during the year.