MANDAN, N.D. _ A $10.5 million YMCA might come to southeast Mandan soon. The Mandan City Commission on Tuesday approved giving the Mandan Park District a total of $1.5 million in Mandan Visitor Funds to buy 5.25 acres of land for the facility .
Mandan city workers also got good news. The commission approved a new pay policy that will match 95 percent of Bismarck city workers’ salary ranges for positions where they do similar work.
The commission agreed to front $750,000 of Visitor Fund money right away, and over the next five years it will pay the park district $150,000 per year for the land buy. Mandan Visitor Fund money is collected from lodging and restaurant taxes and must be dedicated to recreation or visitor attractions that benefit the city.
The park district will pay all of the $1.7 million cost of the land but lease the land to the YMCA for $1 per year. The YMCA will own, construct and run the new YMCA building, said Bill Bauman, executive director of the Bismarck YMCA.
Mandan Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin said the YMCA Board hopes to approve a mutual agreement next Thursday.
He will ask the Mandan Park Board at its July 8 meeting to buy the land and sign the draft agreement with the YMCA.
Higlin and Bauman said a groundbreaking for the new facility would not likely happen before 2015.
A private-public fundraiser must still raise $10.5 million before any construction can start, they explained.
“It’s all contingent on financing and fundraising at this time,” Bauman said.
Officials hope to bring in other community partners to the project
“It would be a large gymnasium with a suspended running track, a really good-sized wellness space for strength and cardio, studios for classes, a couple child care rooms and locker rooms,” Bauman said.
Based on results of a city pay compensation study, commissioners also decided to match Mandan city employees’ wages to 95 percent of what comparable Bismarck city workers make. The commission increased the city’s contribution to the city retirement fund from 7 percent to 8 percent. Mandan City Administrator Jim Neubauer said the new policy takes effect on July 1.
The action was taken after the city determined there was a high amount of turnover because Mandan was losing workers, particularly in law enforcement, to Bismarck or other better-paying entities.
Neubauer said the city cannot catch up all at once so the pay adjustments will be 5 percent a year until the salaries are within that 95 percent range. He said some employees may already be in that 95 percent range so an adjustment is not needed.
The next six months of the adjustment will cost the city $113,000 more, Neubauer said. He was confident the city would be able to sustain the pay increase in the near future, but the city would keep monitoring its economic health every year.
“There has been a lot more building activity. Not all of the revenue is property tax. We have employees who work in the water department and sewer that we might be able to absorb in the utility rates,” he said. “Our general fund is doing very well. Our property tax collections have been very good. Our sales tax collections have been very good.”
“We can’t do everything we want to. We want to make sure what we do makes a difference,” Neubauer said.
He said the initial budget request asks for 13 more employees in 2014, but the city commission will decide that late this summer.
Commissioner Dot Frank said in looking at the employee turnover, “it ends up costing more than our re-investment in the current employees, I would argue, as a commissioner, that we increase what we are offering to bring people up to a pay raise.”
Mayor Arlyn Van Beek called the change “a step in the right direction so we can get out of this deficit.”