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Large grant award possible for Save Our Pool group

A local group could see a big boost to its fundraising campaign in the form of a $150,000 grant if it can raise the required matching funds. Save Our Pool, formed in 2012 to raise money to cover part of the cost of renovating East Grand Forks' sw...

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Herald File Photo

 

A local group could see a big boost to its fundraising campaign in the form of a $150,000 grant if it can raise the required matching funds.

Save Our Pool, formed in 2012 to raise money to cover part of the cost of renovating East Grand Forks' swimming pool, now is tasked with collecting $50,000 in matching funds in order to receive the full grant.

The group will receive $100,000 of the grant in the near future, said Kristi Mishler, executive director of the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region.

Once the $50,000 in match money is raised, the remaining $50,000 will be paid out. The Community Foundation is administering the grant on behalf of the Otto Bremer Foundation.

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SOP revealed the grant award earlier this week in a letter published in the Herald.

"We are continuing to recruit other businesses for support," group member Tina Neil said Thursday. "We have high expectations, and we are excited to see the finished product."

SOP has been fundraising over the past few years to pay for pool amenities such as a climbing wall, deck furniture, spray features and a flume slide. Donations to the group can be made online at  http://gofoundation.org/save-our-pool/.

The full cost of the pool renovation is estimated at $2.1 million, with construction getting underway this past summer and is set to wrap up this spring.

Project payment

The grant news comes just under a week before the city is set to wrap up a mail-in special election on March 7.

The city has proposed the creation of a 1 percent sales and use tax that would be used to pay for the pool renovation. Revenues raised from a potential tax would cover annual payments on a loan the city secured from its Water and Light Department to pay for the project.

If voters approve the sales and use tax, it will take about five years to pay off the loan. Using taxable sales in the city from 2013, the amount raised per year by the tax would be about $633,700, according to a news release from the Chamber of Grand Forks-East Grand Forks.

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The tax can only be used to pay for the pool project and would cease as soon as the loan is paid back.

If the tax fails, the loan payment will be covered by property taxes paid by East Grand Forks residents. Since the loan payment is not included in the city's annual budget, the property tax levy would need to increase to cover it.

The loan would be paid back at 1 percent interest over a 20-year period, according to loan terms agreed upon by the City Council and the Water and Light Commission.

The yearly payment would be around $118,000, which means the tax levy would increase by about 5 percent, the release said.

At the polls

Voters have only a few days left to mail in their ballots with a decision on the tax. Ballots must be received on March 7 at City Hall in order to be valid.

Eligible voters also can vote in person at City Hall, which is considered absentee voting in this type of election.

Absentee paperwork and ballots can be filled out in the Administration Office during regular business hours leading up to Election Day. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, the City Hall training room also will be open to allow residents to vote absentee.

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The training room will serve as a polling location for absentee voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. The training room is located on the ground floor to the south of the elevator. City Hall is the only place absentee votes can be cast in person.

Election questions can be directed to the Administration Office at (218) 772-2483.

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