County denies new 1 percent sales tax requests
With $1.7 million of the county’s growing 1 percent
recreation and infrastructure sales tax revenue still uncommitted, new
groups are coming forward with requests for the county board. On
April 24, two groups were sent away empty-handed after the board
refused to make any promises for the balance of the $20 million (plus
the cost of bonding) that can be collected in coming years.
Cook County Mountain Bike System
Tim Kennedy and Mark Spinler of the Superior Cycling Association asked
two things of the board: to make an application for funding from
Minnesota’s Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program on behalf of the
association and to consider using 1 percent funds for a 25 percent
match on a grant of up to $500,000. This would amount to $125,000 or
6¼ percent of the $20 million.
Tim Kennedy told the board that areas in the region that have invested
in single-track mountain bike trail systems are seeing significant
increases in visitors, and those visitors tend to be prosperous. He
cited statistics showing the average mountain biker’s household
income to be $94,000.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he could support committing $50,000
of 1 percent funding for the project. “It would have been nice to
designate it from the start,” he said.
However, such a motion was not made. The county board passed a motion
supporting the association in an application for Legacy funds but made
no commitment of funds.
The Cook County Historical Society requested 1 percent funding for a
second time on April 24, after being told last summer to seek other
grant funding to supplement a $550,000 museum expansion. This time,
they have secured funding from other sources and requested $350,000.
The application states that the museum’s programs have been growing
in popularity and its 2005 addition is not large enough to accommodate
the numbers of people coming for special events.
The proposed addition would be just over 2,300 square feet on two
levels, with a large exhibit and meeting space, a research room/
library, office and workspace, storage, and a handicap-accessible
entrance and bathroom. The second floor would feature the Grand
Marais lighthouse lens which is being replaced this year by a solar-
powered LED system.
Commissioner Jim Johnson said granting 1 percent funds to a project
not already named would be “opening a whole can of worms. …We owe
it to the voters to stick to the projects we defined and that they
voted on,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to deny the request.