Council to eliminate 3B sunshine clause
Amid questions on why 3B tax expenditures are not reported to the Mobridge City Council, the board approved the first reading of Ordinance 931, which eliminates the sunshine clause from the ordinance.
Bruce Brekke, who was representing the 3B Committee and Economic Development, spoke to the council on the impact of 3B on the Mobridge area economy. He explained that 60 percent of the tax revenue goes to the 3B Committee, 30 percent to Economic Development and 10 percent is for reserves.
Brekke told the council how funding from the 3B tax helped launch the annual ice fishing tournament and how that tournament has grown every year and is now self-sustaining.
He pointed out how events that have assistance from 3B funding, including the Mobridge-Pollock High School Powwow and the Smarts Challenge, bring people into the community. He also reported the committee helps the Friends of Scherr-Howe and the regional dart tournament and that the committee has pledged an annual donation to the Outdoor Pool Project.
He said by helping fund these events, the committee is helping to add to the economic growth by helping to bring outside dollars into businesses, adding to the amount of money circulating within the community.
He told the council in 2009 and 2010, 3B revenue was $39 million, an increase of 14.9 percent.
“This indicates that what the 3B Committee is doing is working,” he said.
Brekke explained Economic Development’s role in the area, telling the group that helping existing and new businesses is primary duty of the organization. He explained the group established a $1 million revolving line of credit from which businesses can receive low interest loans. He also explained that the 3B funding also helps to offset the expense of the director of Economic Development.
Ward III Councilman Gene Cox questioned the council and members of the audience representing the 3B Tax Committee, on why the city does not receive a report of the committee’s expenditures of the tax funding.
“I don’t have a problem with the sunshine clause going away,” he said of the ordinance. “I would like to see better reporting on what the funding is being used for.”
Brekke told Cox and other council members the committee submits a detailed report to the city every year. Mobridge’s Chief Finance Officer Heather Beck said the 3B Committee has been diligent in getting that information to the city each year.
She also pointed out that Cox is one of the mayor’s appointees to the 3B Committee. As a member of that committee, Cox would be privy to a monthly expenditure report reviewed by the committee at its meetings.
Cox then asked Brekke if Economic Development could be open to helping the city get tax properties rehabilitated and back on the tax roles. He said he has tried to work with the group and wasn’t satisfied with the response he was getting. He said with the lack of available housing in Mobridge, he would like to see the group focus more on the tax properties.
Brekke told the committee was meeting in March and that Cox was welcome to attend the meeting and address the issue.
Fire Dept. loan
After discussing the possibility of securing a loan for the remaining $70,864 to pay for the new fire truck to be delivered in March, Fire Chief Brad Milliken asked the council if the city would be willing to loan the department the funding for the truck.
The department has secured grants and donations that would pay all but $70,864 due on the truck, the day of delivery.
Beck told the council the loan from a funding agency would cost the department an additional $13,338 over the eight-year loan period, if they borrowed the funding from a lending agency.
She said by having the city loan the funding to the fire department with payments coming directly to the city, it would save the fire department the $13,338.
She said the finance committee is in favor of the city making the loan to the fire department, with department paying an annual payment due on the date the funds were dispersed. The truck would be owned by the city.
The council approved funding for the remaining amount owed on the equipment.
Beck asked the council to approve the use of credit and debit cards for residents to pay bills from the city. She told the council requests for that form of payment are becoming more frequent.
Beck said she has researched the situation and found that the city can offer the service through a virtual terminal. There would be a link from the city’s website, to the bank’s website to ensure secure transactions. She said the cost would be $39 per month and a one time set up fee of $179.
The cost to the resident wanting to use the cards to pay their bills would be $2 per transaction.
The council approved purchasing the service.