Breaking down the ballot: Bismarck, Burleigh County

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As Your Local Election Headquarters, this week KX News has been highlighting what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Today, we’re discussing the measures on your ballot in Bismarck and Burleigh County.

Some carry more weight than others.

Bismarck Measure No. 1 is likely to have the most direct impact on those who live in and around the capital city. Another half-cent sales tax is proposed. This one would be used to build a two-story indoor recreation complex.

“One of the things everyone wants to know is: ‘What is there to do in your community?’ Well, in the summer the answer is, ‘A lot’. In the winter, not as much. So that’s what we’re trying to address here,” shared Brian Beattie, President of the Bismarck Board of Park Commissioners.

The Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau has endorsed the project. But, the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC board decided not to with an 8 to 5 vote, citing the uncertain times.

“I believe it’s also for our economic benefit. A project of this size is a great thing for the construction companies to be able to be involved with,” Beattie added.

If voted in, the tax would be in effect until the $108-million in bonds used to fund the project are paid in full.

“15 to 20 years is kind of the payback of what was anticipated,” Beattie said.

A site hasn’t been decided yet. The project is on hold, awaiting the voters’ decision come June 9.

If you live anywhere in Burleigh County, you’ve got another important decision to make: Should the County Auditor, Treasurer and Recorder no longer be elected positions? This is Burleigh County Measure No. 1.

Current Recorder, Debbie Kroshus is in her fourth term and 14th year. She says they’ve always been elected.

“Over the last couple of years, many counties have switched for those offices to be appointed, Cass County being the latest,” Kroshus explained.

She says this is something the county has been considering for some time and it would increase the likelihood for qualified candidates in the position.

“The difference between the Sheriff being elected and the State’s Attorney being elected, there are qualifications for that. But for the Auditor, Treasurer and the Recorder, you just have to live in the county,” Kroshus added.

Having to apply means background checks, credit checks and so on.

The downside, according to Kroshus, “People feel like they’re losing their right to elect.”

Right now Burleigh County has an Interim Auditor, Al Vietmeier, who was appointed. But someone will ultimately have to be voted in come November.

Kroshus says the most important thing is finding a team that can manage millions of dollars properly.

If passed, the half-cent sales tax would go into effect Sept. 1, and the facility would be expected to be completed in the Spring of 2023.

There are two remaining measures:

City of Bismarck Measure No. 2: “Shall a complete summary of the minutes of the Bismarck City Commission meetings be published in the official newspaper?”

Bismarck City Administrator Keith Hunke says State law requires this be voted on every four years.

He says in his 30 years working with the City, Commission meeting minutes have always been posted in the Bismarck Tribune.

Hunke says it does come with a cost. In 2019, the ad fees from the Tribune totaled $8,623.95.

Bismarck Public School Dist. 1 School District Measure No. 1: “Shall a record of the proceedings of the Bismarck School Board be published in the official newspaper of the district?”

Similar to the City measure, Bismarck Public Schools has to put this up for a vote every so often as well.

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