City Commission approves community grants, purchase of Sloulin Field | Local News Stories

The Williston Board of City Commissioners met on Tuesday, May 12, and among the items discussed were the approval of another round of Community Growth grants as well as purchase of the Sloulin Field airport property.

The commission met once again via teleconference, as COVID-19 precautions still have city buildings closed to the public until June 1. Commission President Howard Klug made two proclamations, one recognizing the importance of Arbor Day on May 15, in which Public Works staff will be planting a tree outside the new Public Works facility to mark the day; and another declaring the week of May 17 as National Public Works Week in Williston to “recognize the contributions which public works officials make every day to our health, safety comfort and quality of life.” This year’s theme is “The Rhythm of Public Works,” however the Public Works Department will not be holding their annual community outreach day due to COVID-19 concerns.

Finance Director Hercules Cummings stated to the board that the Sloulin Field property had been appraised at $11,047,836.46, with a decommissioning cost of $4,702,163.54. Cummings said that upon finalization of the appraisal, the FAA requires the final amount, less decommissioning cost, be transferred to the XWA FAA Approved Inaugural Project Fund. Cummings added that program consultants AE2S and Ulteig advised that the city apply the funds specifically to a capital project fund as a placeholder for future inaugural project funds upon completion and grants applied.

‘Incurring costs’

“The reason we’re doing this still is because we’re still incurring some costs and we want to make sure we don’t overfund the project,” he explained.

That transaction, he said, would satisfy all FAA requirements and documentation and allow the city to move forward with purchasing the property and transferring it back to the city.

Cummings also presented the board with a plan for the repayment of a sales tax credit owed to the North Dakota Sales Tax Commissioner. Cummings said the $5,609,595.72 credit may have resulted from amendments and the tax cap. Cummings said an agreement was made between the city and the state Tax Commission office to pay back the amount of $1,794,960.75 using the amount of March’s collection, which is May’s dispersion. This would allow the city to maintain the disbursement schedule to pay the remaining $3,811,989.97 over a seven-month period, from June to December.

Cummings said the figures represent an even split between the city and the Williston Parks and Recreation District. Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl added comment, stating that as the WPRD is currently unable to pay their portion up front, so the city would be paying the full amount from the sales tax fund that the city would be meeting with the Park District in the coming week to discuss their repayment plan to the city.

Economic Development Director Shawn Wenko brought three Community Build/Growth grants before the commission, based on a recent Star Fund board meeting. Over $1 million in grant requests were made, with the board only able to approve around $100,000 in requests at this time.

Three major projects that will be moving forward thanks to commission approval are the Coyote Pups Learning Den, which received $10,000 towards to opening of a child care center at Life Church.

Big G Center in Grenora received $12,900 for equipment for a grocery store. Trinity Health Foundation was granted $15,000 for equipment purchase for their Williston Location.

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