Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

GF committee greenlights transparency ballot language, hears Bank of ND loan update

Grand Forks voters are one step closer to a ballot measure at this June's primary election that would ask them whether the city should publish certain records in the local paper.

Grand Forks voters are one step closer to a ballot measure at this June's primary election that would ask them whether the city should publish certain records in the local paper.

The City Council's Finance and Development Committee voted 3-0 to give preliminary approval to the same ballot language for the June 14 election that's come before voters every four years since 1996 - whether the city should publish its council meeting minutes and records of its checks in the Herald.

"It's a (state) requirement to put it on the ballot and let people vote on it," council member Jeannie Mock said. "I think that's the intent of the law, that idea of transparency. I think with the Internet, we have a lot more transparency available to people than just minutes being published in the newspaper ... but not everybody uses the Internet."

City Clerk Alice Fontaine said the measure has a varied history. It's been on the ballot since 1996, and voters have since rejected it multiple times. However, it's been given relatively wide margins of approval in recent years, passing 4,685-3,364 in 2008 and 6,995-4,782 in 2012.

Assistant City Clerk Sherie Lundmark said the city publishes minutes from two City Council meetings in the Herald each month, as well as records of about 840 checks, most of which are to vendors like Xcel Energy or other companies that serve the city. The service costs the city about $10,000 per year, she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bank of North Dakota loan

Committee members also heard an information-only update on a $15 million Bank of North Dakota loan set to extend city infrastructure and help build a new water treatment plant.

Though that money has been divvied up across projects ranging from utility preparation for industrial activity north of Gateway Drive to a westward expansion of water and sewer services, the city has yet to finalize paperwork.

City Finance Director Maureen Storstad explained to council members that the loan has an up to 30-year term with 2 percent interest, and that final paperwork is being completed.

Storstad added that, instead of withdrawing one $15 million sum, the city is planning to break the funding into multiple loans, to be repaid from funding sources such as special assessments, wastewater utility fees and a mix of the latter with sales tax dollars.

What To Read Next
Artificial intelligence can now act as an artist or a writer. Does that mean AI is ready to play doctor? Many institutions, including Mayo Clinic, believe that AI is ready to become a useful tool.
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.