The Grand Forks City Council and School Board will delay a joint meeting initially scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, until later this year. The meeting will now likely occur in October, City Administrator Todd Feland said.
City Council President Dana Sande said the meeting was delayed at his request, as he will be traveling next week for his work as vice president of business development for the UND Aerospace foundation. Bill Palmiscno said he had been informed there may have been other council members also unable to attend.
The meeting gives leaders a chance to talk about big financial and logistical questions that affect both groups. That includes things like local tax incentives, bridge construction and property taxes. Bill Palmiscno, School Board president, referred to it as a “general work session” for both groups.
Palmiscno said he expects multiple financial issues to be discussed when the groups finally meet. Grand Forks Public Schools is facing tens of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, he said, and he’s interested in speaking with the city about recent tax exemption agreements, like those used to entice development at J.R. Simplot on Gateway Drive and the new Hugo’s building on DeMers Avenue downtown.
“Right now, with our financial conditions, we can’t afford to always keep doing that,” Palmiscno said.
The city changed its policy on such tax exemptions last year, creating a process in which representatives of the city, park district, school district and County Commission all meet to vote on a new plan before each board votes on the same plan separately.
Palmiscno also noted that the School Board is in early talks about a millage increase to help with deferred maintenance costs.
Sande also said he’s happy to talk about the debate surrounding a bridge crossing on 32nd Avenue South. Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown has said he would veto spending on such a location, which would very likely boost heavy traffic down a residential corridor near multiple schools.
“I think it is important to talk about the bridge, because the school district has two schools that are not far from 32nd,” Sande said. “I think as a community, we should come together and we should get the school district’s input on that.”