Candidate Questionnaire: Stay Nice or Get Real?

Minot City Council Candidates

The Question:

Imagine you are the manager of a highly popular and exclusive club that provides numerous benefits to its members, such as premium amenities, special events, and various recreational activities. However, only members who live within a certain neighborhood pay membership fees, while others from surrounding areas enjoy the club’s benefits without contributing financially. In the spirit of hospitality, paying club members have previously accepted this practice without complaint. However, finances are becoming tighter, and it is increasingly difficult to manage. Additionally, some members are starting to move just outside the paying neighborhood intentionally to avoid paying membership fees. As the manager, what policies or strategies would you implement to address this inequity while maintaining the club’s inclusive and community-focused spirit?

About the Question

This question is analogous many examples in local governance, but in construct, it most closely resembles the funding and access of Minot Park District. The question was developed to measure the candidates’ ideas of fairness and equity when it comes to the most germane topic — budgets and taxation.

Stephan Podrygula

The costs of services – whether in the form of memberships or taxes – need to be equally shared by all of those who benefit from them (no matter where they might live).

In this hypothetical scenario, I would charge every club member for the benefits (of club membership) that they take advantage of.

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Mike Blessum

I am a firm believer in user fees to offset the costs of as many public services as possible rather than blanket charges for all. Charging fees directly to the users of individual amenities helps offset the overall burden placed on the taxpaying public as a whole. This particularly applies to recreational or premium amenities that are not a shared basic benefit that applies to all.

Introducing user fees for the use of the facilities and activities for all members would be the best way to balance the competing interests. The Park Board does this with many of its facilities. For example, Souris Valley Golf Course is subsidized by the park board for its operation through the property tax levy, but it generates fees to offset a majority of the costs of operation. Moving more public facilities to this model with a long-term goal of self-sufficiency is the idea I would advocate.

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Rob Fuller

Addressing the financial and equity issues while maintaining the club’s inclusive and community-focused spirit requires a thoughtful approach. Here are some policies and strategies I would implement:

Introduce a Tiered Membership System
Policy: Implement a tiered membership system where all users contribute financially, but the level of benefits varies.

Implementation:

  • Create different membership tiers (e.g., basic, standard, premium) with corresponding fees and benefits.
  • Residents of the paying neighborhood could receive a discount or be automatically enrolled in the standard tier, reflecting their historical contributions.
  • Non-residents can choose their tier based on the benefits they wish to access, ensuring they contribute fairly.

Impact: This system ensures that all users contribute financially while still providing options for different levels of engagement and support.

Introduce Day Passes and Event Fees
Policy: Offer day passes and fees for special events for non-members who do not wish to commit to a full membership.

Implementation:

  • Set a reasonable fee for day passes that allows non-members to access the club’s amenities occasionally.
  • Charge for special events or activities, ensuring that even those who attend infrequently contribute to the club’s finances.

Impact: This approach allows non-members to continue enjoying the club’s benefits while ensuring they contribute to its upkeep.

Engage the Community in Decision-Making
Policy: Involve both members and non-members in discussions about the club’s financial sustainability and the need for equitable contributions.

Implementation:

  • Hold town hall meetings or focus groups to discuss the financial challenges and gather input on potential solutions.
  • Create a committee with representatives from both the paying neighborhood and surrounding areas to explore and recommend fair contribution models.

Impact: Engaging the community fosters a sense of ownership and cooperation, helping to ensure that any changes are accepted and understood by all.

Offer Incentives for Paying Members
Policy: Provide exclusive incentives and rewards for paying members to recognize their contributions and encourage others to join.

Implementation:

  • Offer special perks, such as priority access to events, discounts on services, or exclusive members-only events.
  • Introduce a referral program where existing members can earn rewards for bringing in new paying members.

Impact: Incentives can motivate more people to become paying members, increasing the club’s revenue while maintaining inclusivity.

By implementing these policies and strategies, the club can address the financial inequity while maintaining its inclusive and community-focused spirit. These measures ensure that all users contribute fairly, helping to sustain the club’s operations and benefits for everyone.

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Mike Gietzen

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Scott Samuelson

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Scott Burlingame


First, I would explore if some sort of tiered member plans is possible. Ask members who are not part of the club to pay for what parts of the Club they use, when they use it. Next, I would work to enhance the membership for members. Creating better incentives for the current members and member’s only options would help to justify the price they pay. Finally, I would work to find ways to get the nonmembers to move to the area. I would find ways to provide incentives to them if they relocate to the area that comes with a membership.

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Leif Snyder

We have to get real at some point, now admittedly I am a candidate for city council and not the park board but interestingly did you know that all rounds of golf played at Soures Valley Golf Course are subsidized by park district property taxes, whether the golfer playing is from within the city of Minot or not.  So in other words if a golfer who lives inside Minot plays a round with 3 buddies from outside Minot.  The one golfer from within Minot pays the greens fees and subsidizes his other 3 buddies via his/her tax dollars while the other 3 only pay greens fees that do not cover the whole cost of the round, tax dollars do.

The city is no different, if we have to raise fees to cover the cost of services we may have to do that but that also includes making sure those outside the city are paying as well and not just letting the citizens of Minot pick up the bill.  If recycling in Minot were to break even it would be a good day in my opinion, but the savings we don’t see is the room saved on the landfill all be it minimal but it is measurable.  however basically non of the other participants who use the regional landfill have a recycling program there for I don’t see a problem with charging those communities as well as private contractors a higher tipping fee.  Figuring out real costs and charing enterprise fund fees accurately is a definite need  that needs to be fair for Minot Citizens.

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Minot Public School Board Candidates

The Question:

Imagine you are the manager of a highly popular and exclusive club that provides numerous benefits to its members, such as premium amenities, special events, and various recreational activities. However, only members who live within a certain neighborhood pay membership fees, while others from surrounding areas enjoy the club’s benefits without contributing financially. In the spirit of hospitality, paying club members have previously accepted this practice without complaint. However, finances are becoming tighter, and it is increasingly difficult to manage. Additionally, some members are starting to move just outside the paying neighborhood intentionally to avoid paying membership fees. As the manager, what policies or strategies would you implement to address this inequity while maintaining the club’s inclusive and community-focused spirit?

About the Question

This question is analogous many examples in local governance, but in construct, it most closely resembles the funding and access of Minot Park District. The question was developed to measure the candidates’ ideas of fairness and equity when it comes to the most germane topic — budgets and taxation.

Darrik Trudell

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Lacey Laudenschlager

If money is getting tight and the club is hard to manage, it’s time to reevaluate the current structure. It might be time to implement a fee for all receiving benefits despite the neighborhood in which they reside. Or, perhaps some type of fee structure should be considered.

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Michael Gessner

Mr. Gessner did not provide a response to this question.

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John Carey

While I appreciate the offer to participate in this candidate questionnaire sent to me by “TheMinotVoice”, I have respectively declined because I do not feel that answering hypothetical questions is helpful in addressing and solving our current problems. My positions and opinions on certain topics are based on the real world issues we’re currently facing in our school district. Thank you John Carey

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KayLee Bourquin

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Bill Irmen

To me it makes sense that those who take advantage of the club’s benefits should share in the cost.  If we spread the cost, we should be able to keep fees low.  Hopefully we provide a product that is of such high quality that people will value it enough to pay for what they get.

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Scott Louser

This is a perfect non-education example of what can be done for open enrollment for Minot Public Schools. Currently we have a limited version of this regarding tuition waivers, but Minot Public Schools can be made available to anyone who chooses to enroll as long as they’re counted in the fall enrollment count in order to receive 100% of the state per pupil funding formula. Charging user fees for activities regardless of where one resides is a fair way to have everyone participating paying an equal amount.

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Minot Park Board Candidates

The Question:

Imagine you are the manager of a highly popular and exclusive club that provides numerous benefits to its members, such as premium amenities, special events, and various recreational activities. However, only members who live within a certain neighborhood pay membership fees, while others from surrounding areas enjoy the club’s benefits without contributing financially. In the spirit of hospitality, paying club members have previously accepted this practice without complaint. However, finances are becoming tighter, and it is increasingly difficult to manage. Additionally, some members are starting to move just outside the paying neighborhood intentionally to avoid paying membership fees. As the manager, what policies or strategies would you implement to address this inequity while maintaining the club’s inclusive and community-focused spirit?

About the Question

This question is analogous many examples in local governance, but in construct, it most closely resembles the funding and access of Minot Park District. The question was developed to measure the candidates’ ideas of fairness and equity when it comes to the most germane topic — budgets and taxation.

Deven Mantz

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Cliff Hovda

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Chelsea Kirkhammer

To address the financial challenges and inequity while maintaining the club’s inclusive and community-focused spirit, I would suggest the implementation of a combination of policies and strategies to ensure fair contributions from all who benefit from the club’s amenities. Here are some ideas of possible policies:

  • Communication & Public Forums
  • Flexible Payment Plans
  • Grant Opportunities
  • Local Business Partnerships
  • Introduction of Non-Resident Membership Fees
  • Resident Membership Benefits
  • Verification Process

By implementing these strategies, the club can address the financial inequities while maintaining its community-focused and inclusive spirit. These policies aim to ensure that all members contribute fairly to the sustainability and growth of the club, enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved.

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About our Candidate Questionnaire:
We tried to get our candidates thinking. If you’d like to read the rest of the questions and candidate responses, here you go:

MinotVoice

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