Parks studies staffer salaries

Minot Park Board commissioners John Drady, Cliff Hovda, Connie Feist and Richard Sabol came together for their monthly meeting Tuesday evening, when they considered a preliminary salary proposal assembled by parks director Ron Merritt. The proposed scaling would see effective three- and six-percent increases for the district’s departmental heads and “line positions,” respectively. The total raises take into account a slight increase in monthly contributions to the pension fund, and commissioners accepted the proposal for more detailed discussion at a public budget meeting to be held 4 p.m. on Aug. 28 at Maysa Arena.

The salary proposal is meant to bring park staff salaries to more competitive levels, as the district finds ways to fill its full-time openings. “Overall I think this gets us competitive now,” Merritt remarked. The pay scale is an update to one devised for Minot Parks seven years ago by Public Sector Personnel Consultants, which tables pay grades against incremental steps in salary increases. As currently considered, the district’s raw salaries would see an annual $110,000 increase next year over the current $1,620,000 budgeted, or 6.8 percent. Next week’s budget meeting will be the first in a series of several for hammering out the details.

The board is back at Roosevelt Park Zoo’s visitor center once again, as Erik Ramstad Middle School staff prepare Minot Municipal Auditorium rooms for the first quarter of their students’ upcoming year. Most park committee meetings are planned to be held at the zoo until Ramstad shifts back over to its new campus, a move expected by Dec. 2.

At the meeting, parks commissioners also:

agreed to assess project costs for paving work at Centennial Park as recommended by consultancy KLJ, which operations director Randy Burckhard suggested would be a wise first step toward that park’s future development. Part of the paving would include extending 7th Avenue Southwest through the park, connecting it with the Hwy. 83 Bypass.

approved a bid by Bitco Inc. of Bismarck for work rehabilitating the Bison Plant Trail. At $172,974, the bid was higher than the $150,000 estimate, but grant funding covering 80 percent of the estimated cost has a project deadline of Feb. 28, 2014. The firm will clear brush, landscape and reshape the trail’s 3.1 miles, also widening it for greater use by cross-country skiers during the winter.

accepted an estimate drawn up by Rolac Contracting for installing a city statue at 4th Avenue Northwest and Broadway, for $11,548. Maintenance superintendent Brian Mathson was confident that the district can do some of the concrete and electrical work for the project, bringing some of that cost down. Originally purchased for Centennial Park, the bronze depiction of two children bearing the American flag has been in storage after its installation was delayed by the 2011 Souris River flood.

rejected a bid from Keller Paving for the golf course trail project, whose low bid nonetheless came in at $300,000 higher than expected. “It could be a timing issue,” offered Feist, who recommended putting off another bid until the winter, when pricing may be more competitive.

approved $843,956 in bills, $191,334 in salaries, as well as 20 liquor permits.