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Dave Olson, Published October 12 2010

Moorhead City Council: Agencies make cases for funds

Moorhead City Council members heard impassioned pleas Monday from five organizations that stand to lose a total of about $73,000 in city dollars in 2011 if informal council votes from earlier this month remain unchanged.

For more than an hour, representatives from the groups outlined what the organizations do for the community.

The groups and the amounts they received in 2010 were: Cultural Diversity Resources, $13,490; The Arts Partnership, $22,840; the Rourke Art Gallery Museum, $9,220; the Metro Youth Partnership, $25,950; and Minn-Kota PAAWS, $1,000.

Jill Frederick, a spokeswoman for PAAWS, said the organization took 92 cats from the local pound in 2009 and found homes for most of them.

The number of cats taken from the pound so far in 2010 is 45, said Frederick, who added that the organization has provided 119 low-cost sterilization surgeries on animals this year.

Frederick said the amount PAAWS is asking for is roughly equal to the city income tax on three average-priced homes in Moorhead.

John Rowell, a former council member, spoke on behalf of the Rourke Art Gallery Museum.

Rowell said the property tax impact of the museum’s request amounts to 69 cents for a home valued at about $140,000.

He said of the $373 in annual city property taxes paid on such a home, about $25 goes for the city’s subsidy to the Hjemkomst Center.

“This is an appeal to fairness,” Rowell said.

After hearing the presentations, council members discussed whether votes taken earlier this month indicating insufficient support to continue funding the five agencies should serve as a final budget decision.

Council Member Mark Hintermeyer said if the question of outside agency funding was left open until the budget is finalized in December, he feared it would lead to “brinkmanship” and irreparably damage trust among board members.

The board appeared to reach a consensus that formal votes on which outside agencies will not receive funding in 2011 will be taken at the board’s Oct. 25 meeting.

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