A body the city of Dickinson helps fund through sales tax dollars got a cool response to its scheduled funding request during Monday’s City Commission meeting at City Hall.
Stark Development Corp. Executive Vice President Gaylon Baker gave a 35-minute presentation on the benefits his organization has had on the area before, during and after the oil boom.
However, Dickinson city commissioners had a tempered response when Baker asked for two more years of continued funding of $750,000 in city sales tax dollars — which is how the city currently helps fund Stark Development — with increases of $50,000 in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Baker’s figures, which culminated in a request of $900,000 for 2021, came with the caveat that sales tax income allows the city to do that.
Some commissioners were pessimistic that sales tax dollars — which have fallen 19 percent since last year — would be able to keep up with that funding request and others that come the city’s way.
“Where we’re sitting at sales tax collections and the economy right now, I think we need to take a look at those numbers,” Commissioner Carson Steiner said. “A lot of us here, we don’t know what’s going to happen yet, and you’re asking for a guarantee in 2021 of $900,000.”
Baker said he believes Stark Development, which was established following the 1980s oil bust as the Dickinson Development Corp., can help do that as it attempts to bring more business into the area and help keep existing businesses here.
Baker said as oilfield companies leave Dickinson, Stark Development is searching for companies that could replace them.
“I’d love to tell the oil industry we’re going to sit around and wait for them to fill those buildings, but no thanks,” he said.
Commission President Gene Jackson said said he found Stark Development’s request not to increase its funding until 2019 “reasonable.”
Commissioners agreed to take Baker’s request into consideration, and not to take any action until after the reforecasted 2016 city budget is presented at the May 16 regular commission meeting.