City approves 2008 budget

With the 2008 budget approved, the city didn't have time to pause for a breath before diving into other business. The Dickinson City Commission unanimously approved the 2008 appropriations ordinance during Monday night's regularly scheduled meeting.

With the 2008 budget approved, the city didn't have time to pause for a breath before diving into other business.

The Dickinson City Commission unanimously approved the 2008 appropriations ordinance during Monday night's regularly scheduled meeting.

It passed with minor changes, such as shifting funds and clarifying projected amounts.

With that business out of the way, the commissioners jumped into discussions on grant funding.

"Even though I'm uneasy with the requirements that we will probably face as we move further into this grant program, I do recognize also that a subsidy is necessary," City Administrator Greg Sund said of an North Dakota Department of Transportation grant, which would help subsidize Dickinson's taxi service. "Reluctantly, I would recommend approval."


The commissioners unanimously followed Sund's recommendation to continue to use the grant program in 2008 but reconsider after one year.

"(Taxi company owner Ray) Sand is dependent on the subsidy, whether it's the state or 100 percent from the city," Sund said. "This is not a profit making business."

The concern with the program is the city may have to hire extra staff to meet the grant's paperwork requirements, which would negate the funds received from the DOT.

"(Program Manager Bruce Fuchs) also recognizes that our part of this program is not going to be perfect even in our second year," Sund said. "All the other entities he deals with have been under these programs for 15-25 years and know what's expected. Elder Care is an example of that."

Commissioner Rhonda Dukart also sought reassurance as to whether accepting the grant would help the city become the regional hub as the state DOT moves to reorganize.

"The DOT has made recommendations that the city become a regional hub in three to five years," Commissioner Bill Reitmeier said.

During Monday's meeting, the commissioners also discussed, though did not vote on, whether to work with Stark County on a grant to put a trail at Patterson Lake.

The city previously agreed to support the project, albeit not financially, before the county requested funds to help with the local match. Stark County Commissioner George Nodland said there has been some misinformation because the county never voted on the issue until its last meeting on Sept. 18.


"They agreed if the city was interested in becoming involved in the project, that (the county) would also be involved in it," Nodland said.

He said if the city opts not to participate, the county would likely have one of five votes to continue with the project. The local match of the project would be about $154,000, of which the city is asked to contribute one-third.

Nodland said while the path is outside of the city limits, it would mostly be used by residents of Dickinson.

"I feel personally there is a need for a trail of this length; it's 2.1 miles," Nodland said. "Another issue of why I became interested in it is...there were many kids that were biking out to Patterson Lake along (North Dakota) Highway 10."

Nodland said the proposed trail, called Crooked Crane, would allow people to bike off the highway.

"I don't think any of us disagree that this would be a really nice addition to the city and the county, and that it would also make things safer," Mayor Dennis Johnson said.

He said the city is a little bent out of shape on the issue because it expected not to have any financial obligation in the first place. If the city does not accept the grant, however, it fears it may lose out on future Transportation Enhancement grants.

Though the city did not vote on the issue, Dukart suggested if the city approved contributing its share to the project, it could use sales tax dollars.


The commissioners also discussed the following unrelated matters:

E The commissioners accepted an appeal of the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation to deny a street vacation request near the Southside Municipal Ballpark.

By accepting the appeal, the commissioners did not necessarily support the appeal but rather wanted more input before making a final decision. By law, the commission must advertise that it accepted the appeal for four weeks before holding a public hearing.

During that time, the commissioners called on city staff to do further research, including determining the cost for putting in a street versus a cul-de-sac; assessing whether the proposed new road would provide easier access for emergency vehicles; and collecting further public input, among others.

E The commissioners unanimously approved a special use permit to put in radio tower at the law enforcement center. Sund said by erecting the tower, the LEC would not have to have as many antennas on its roof, which would lengthen the lifespan of the building's roof.

E In approving the 2008 fee schedule, Accounting Manager Tina Fisher assured the commissioners it would not be necessary to raise utility fees. Fisher said even using the fees to fund its share of the generator purchase and 2007 projects, the water and wastewater utility funds would continue to have enough money without raising costs.

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