Community funding questions

The Community Facilities Fund was created a few years ago with a broadly and loosely defined purpose: To use a portion of city sales tax money for property tax relief, community facilities and infrastructure improvements.

The “community facilities” portion of the fund gives us cause to wonder if the term has ever been fully and adequately defined. Consider that Tuesday the Community Development Committee, which makes recommendations to the full city council on which projects should receive funding, decided that all of the latest applicants should receive money.

The list included Bishop Ryan Catholic School ($275,000), Minot Curling Club ($275,000), Minot Commission on Aging ($400,000), Minot Family YMCA ($193,585), and the Minot Park District (at least $1.5 million).

The city cannot give public money to private entities, but is allowed to contract with organizations to provide a public service or “enterprise.” So before any money was approved, the applicants had to inform the city how their projects would meet the definition of a city enterprise. Apparently, all the applicants successfully stated their case, as they all were awarded funding.

We’re not trying to say any of the latest approved projects aren’t in some way in the best interest of the city. We would question how some of them qualify as a “city enterprise” or a community facility, but since those terms don’t seem to be adequately defined, there’s no point in raising those concerns.

If the Community Facilities Fund is to continue to be successful and maintain public support, the questions surrounding the guidelines for funding and the definition of community facility and city enterprise must be better defined, and soon.