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Dave Olson, Published June 22 2010

Moorhead City Council scrutinizes funding

Outside agencies that want to continue to get money from the city of Moorhead will have to submit letters explaining why they should.

Thirteen organizations now receive some kind of support, ranging from Minn-Kota PAAWS, which gets $1,000, to Moorhead Community Access TV, which gets $57,000.

The total given to the city’s “community partners” is $171,110.

At Monday’s city council meeting, which touched on planning for the 2011 budget, several board members said the funding list for outside agencies should be reviewed.

Luther Stueland said all of the organizations do good things, but he would prefer to let citizens choose where they want their charitable dollars to go, not elected officials.

City Manager Michael Redlinger said many of the groups on the list provide a service to the city, and he said one option might be to move certain organizations to another part of the budget.

For example, Redlinger said, Valley Water Rescue might be a better fit under public safety.

Council Members Nancy Otto and Mark Hintermeyer suggested the council simply go down the list and let a show of hands determine whether funding for an organization should continue.

It was decided that before that happens each agency will be allowed to submit a letter explaining its strengths and importance to the community.

In other business Monday, the council heard from City Attorney Brian Neugebauer, who outlined a draft joint powers agreement that is being crafted to address how a proposed flood diversion project would be constructed and operated.

Neugebauer said it is likely Moorhead will have to sign on as a co-sponsor of a diversion before any project would move forward.

A primary role of a sponsor would be to guarantee the dollars necessary to construct and maintain a project.

Local officials expect the state of Minnesota will provide Minnesota’s local share of diversion construction costs, but Neugebauer said there are no guarantees.

“At some point you have to take a leap of faith in the Legislature,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555