Mayor To Defend The Bismarck Boondoggle On Radio Listen to KFYR Radio in Bismarck this afternoon on 550 AM or at and call in at (701) 258-05

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Mayor To Defend The Bismarck Boondoggle On Radio

Listen to KFYR Radio in Bismarck this afternoon on 550 AM or at and call in at (701) 258-0550 and tell the mayor what you think.

Tell us what you think of this issue by completing our community survey.

June 2nd, 2016

Public Health Building

The story that won't go away in Bismarck continues to be The Bismarck Boondoggle.

KXMB News in Bismarck covered the story and obtained some quotes from city commissioner Parrell Grossman, and Mayor Mike Seminary. Both Grossman and Seminary are in full spin mode trying to justify the below-market-value and below-cash-investment sale of the property.

Grossman, fresh off his attempt to say the building was full of mold (followed by his backtrack on the mold on KFYR Radio) is now comparing the building deal to putting a new engine into an old truck:

"We needed to do that to keep the people there but my analogy is that if you have a 1974 pick up truck and you have to put $2 thousand into it to replace the engine, it doesn't make that truck worth anymore. Unfortunately that's the situation here," says Parrell Grossman, City Commissioner.

It's a fairly funny comparison. Commissioner Grossman compares the current building to a 1974 pickup that needs an engine for $2,000. First off, for $2,000 that better be a fresh crate engine. Secondly, if you do that, you plan to get many winters out of that pickup and you think it is worth the investment. You don't turn around and sell it for half of what you have into it right away. If it wasn't worth an engine, it will end up on BismanOnline for $500 bucks before you put good money after bad into it.

Since Commissioner Grossman himself said the building probably was not a very good investment to begin with, the analogy does not really hold water - unless he and the city consider the building to be a lemon.

Mayor Mike Seminary of course promoted the deal as good because of hypothetical future economic impact, and increases in property tax revenue. He did not mention the property is in the TIF District (Tax Increment Financing District), and that there will be no property tax revenue for the majority of the project because the University of Mary is a non-profit school and pays no property taxes the way it is already.

Why Sell Office Space (at a loss) When More Is Said To Be Needed?

city office space

Missing from any comments by local officials is the 2014 news story that the City of Bismarck was in desperate need of up-to $34 million worth of office space in the near and mid-term future.

According to this December 9th, 2014 KFYR-TV report, the city needs lots of office space:

Tonight, city commissioners learned which departments need more space.

Studies analyzed how effectively space is used, and consultants found that the city county building and the police department need to expand.

They said evidence storage needs to be expanded because it's already at capacity.

Renovation costs range from $590,000 to $34 million.

"It gives us a good concept of what we're hearing and seeing from our staff, as well as what we will be able to continue at this level of service, and what that will look like," says city commissioner Josh Askvig. "But I don't think, and I didn't hear that in the motion, is why I second it. This isn't an end all, be all."

The commission agreed to have staff look over the findings and prioritize the needs.

Obviously the city does not need $34 million worth of office space if they can sell one of their biggest office buildings at a loss.

And if they wanted to tear down the current Public Health Building and use the lot for a consolidated center for city offices, now they can't because they are selling the property at a loss to the University of Mary.

Call In Today

According to KFYR Radio's facebook page today "heads will explode" when Mayor Mike Seminary takes to the air waves to talk about this issue.

At 3pm the public will have a chance to call it about this issue. The number is (701) 258-0550

The North Dakota Watchdog Network has requested more Open Records Documents from the City of Bismarck. We have asked for the documents showing how bad the mold is that Commissioner Parrell Grossman brought up but does not want to talk about anymore. When we get those documents we will release those to the public. They should show whether the city has been putting its employees at risk and for how long. This of course may become a bigger cost to taxpayers, and a bigger problem for the city due to the appearance of hiding information.

-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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