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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Should leftover money be spent on downtown beautification?

  • Some council members prefer that to dollars simply being absorbed by the budget.
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  • During a discussion among Crookston City Council members earlier this month about the need to equip the new Downtown Square Pavilion with electricity, the fact that the project had already essentially reached its maximum budget of $100,000 spurred Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly to offer up an alternative funding source.
    The cost to turn the former Wayne Hotel corner into a paved parking lot cost only around $32,000, he said, but $50,000 had been budgeted for the project.
    No one figured the entire $18,000 would be needed to bring electricity to the Pavilion, however; Kelly and council members estimated it would cost around a couple thousand dollars.
    So, what about the remaining $16,000 or so? That's what Ward 2 Council Member Dana Johnson wanted to know at this week's council Ways & Means Committee meeting. Is it going to be spent, she asked, or is it just going to be absorbed into the general fund?
    If it's not allocated toward something before year's end or earmarked for something specific in 2014, Finance Director Angel Hoeffner explained, it would likely be applied to other areas in the budget to help offset any deficits.
    Johnson doesn't want to see the money, which was part of $150,000 the council earmarked for "special projects" like the construction of the Pavilion and the development of the Wayne Hotel corner, simply be absorbed into the general fund.
    Kelly suggested contacting the Chamber of Commerce's Beautification Committee, led by Nell DeBoer, to see if they might have some ideas on how to put the money to good use. "You have a committee here that's always busy and always full of ideas and always gung ho," Kelly said. "Maybe we give them some of the money."
    It's likely that DeBoer and the rest of the committee will be approached to come up with some ideas for spending some of the money, with a likely focus on targeting any beautification efforts at downtown. Downtown revitalization remains a top priority for the council, Mayor Dave Genereux said, adding that he has "no problem with putting some funding" toward downtown beautification in the 2014 budget.
    "It's about doing things that people can feel good about," Ward 1 Council Member Tom Jorgens added.
    That all sounds great, Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten said, "But I don't want to spend money just to spend money."

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