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The Minot City Council on Jan. 7 voted to direct City staff to move forward with a proposed merger between the City’s Recreation Department and the Minot Park District.
Under the proposal, the Minot Park District would take control of the Recreation Department and be under the direction of Parks Director Ron Merritt. At the Council meeting, alderman directed staff to draft the lease agreements and joint powers agreements necessary to merge the two entities.
Merritt presented information at the Jan. 7 Council meeting that detailed how the merger would work going forward. Merritt said the goal would be to have one board that oversees the combined departments, which would be the elected members of the Park Board. Another issue that needs to be finalized is how the transfer of City Recreation Department staff members will take place, maintaining the City employees at their current levels of salary and benefits.
Another issue that needs to be worked out, Merritt said, is the cost of youth programs. Currently, there is no charge for youth programs as they are managed by the City’s Recreation Department. Merritt said there could be a modest fee necessary for youth programs moving forward, but the Park District is also seeking recreation scholarships as a way to offset potential costs for users of youth programs.
The merger has been in discussion for much of the past year. A committee chaired by Mayor Shaun Sipma held several meetings, including public meetings to gather information from residents.