City rejects youth center grant request

Ask and ye shall receive - sort of. The Dickinson City Commission granted one of two requests from Sunrise Youth Bureau Director Jerry Mayer during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. Mayer returned to the commission Monday to request a...

Ask and ye shall receive - sort of.

The Dickinson City Commission granted one of two requests from Sunrise Youth Bureau Director Jerry Mayer during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.

Mayer returned to the commission Monday to request a one-time only $10,000 grant to help fund a teen youth center, which he hopes to relocate at Bill's Tax Service on Third Avenue West. The commissioners denied that request for a myriad of reasons.

However, they granted him the wish of making the decision during Monday's meeting, rather than tabling it again.

"I don't question the value at all of your project; however, I'm not comfortable supporting it because I don't know where you're going to be nine months from now," Commissioner Rhonda Dukart said.


Dukart also said she received phone calls from directors of other organizations who had not received grant dollars during the 2007 budget season.

"One of the callers just said, 'How will you decide which is the worthiest of the causes?'" Dukart said. "'If you approve this group, how will you then determine what your next courses of action will be when the next group comes?'"

Commissioner Carson Steiner said he, too, received calls asking similar questions. However, he had another reason for rejecting the grant funds.

"In my opinion, I just don't think this money we have is applicable to this type of situation," Steiner said.

Commissioners Bill Reitmeier and Joe Frenzel previously raised the concern of having an operating budget or a means of getting grant funding from other sources. Reitmeier addressed the issue again at Monday's meeting.

"Kids are extremely important...I don't think losing one is an option," Reitmeier said. "You have to have some sort of operating plan to let us know how you plan to keep this thing running."

Reitmeier and Mayor Dennis Johnson urged Mayer and his board to return to the commission during the 2008 budget season to request funds if his plans are better formed.

Because Mayer and Youth Center Board Chair Sherry Cook placed such emphasis on the importance of not losing even one child, the commissioners agreed their denial said nothing about the children.


"It doesn't mean we put a value on each individual child," Reitmeier said.

Johnson agreed, saying the community offers a multitude of options for children, including tax dollars to the schools and the Dickinson Parks and Recreation.

"Can we do more? Absolutely, but I look at this community and say it's a youth-friendly community," Johnson said.

Despite the denial, Mayer made it clear he and his board would press forward to keep the youth center an option in the community.

"Is it a risky venture? I don't think so. The board doesn't think so," Mayer said. "We're willing to proceed."

In unrelated city matters:

E The commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to give City Administrator Greg Sund authority to work with the United States Department of Transportation in applying for grants for the city's taxi service.

Sund said the DOT generally supplies information on grant proposals to the city at the beginning of the year; however, this year he received it in mid-June.


Because the city would be without grant money for a period of time, Sund also asked the commission to agree to pay the DOT's share until the grant comes in.

"I would hope we get (the grant), but I can't guarantee it," Sund said.

The commissioners agreed to continue paying both shares and would address the issue again if the grant is denied.

"It's an essential service; we've had the conversation a number of times," Dukart said.

E The commissioners unanimously approved the second reading of Jeff Ficek's request to rezone St. Joseph's School from a Residential Zone 1 to Residential Zone 3.

Ficek intends to turn the former school into a 24-hour daycare center, and five to seven apartments.

E The commissioners received a copy of a proposed joint powers agreement to overhaul the current Dickinson State Whitney Stadium.

Johnson said he has been in discussion with the entities about the project.


"Dickinson State started talking specifically to me about whether or not the city commission could support sales tax dollars going into the project," Johnson said.

He said through discussions he learned the project would cost an estimated $12 million to $14 million, with the hope the city would contribute $5 million to $6 million in sales tax dollars.

"We're going to hear more and more about this on a going forward basis," Johnson said.

E The commissioners unanimously approved the first reading of revising the volunteer firefighters retirement benefits ordinance.

The way the current ordinance reads, volunteer firefighters accrue benefits per month. They are granted a certain amount multiplied by the number of years of service after a certain date.

The proposed ordinance would be $15 times the number of completed years of service after Dec. 31, 2006.

E The DOT denied two requests from the city to designate Dickinson a control city, instead of Bismarck, on highway signs.

Sund said the DOT denied the original request, so he then asked to place the city's name on at least some of the signs leading toward Dickinson from either direction.


"They won't do that either," Sund said. "Their recommendation is we buy billboards, and to me that's considerably different than highway signage in its effect and so it's somewhat disappointing."

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