The City of Yankton’s downtown façade grant is returning in a big way in 2021.
During its regular meeting Monday, the Yankton City Commission voted 7-2 to move forward with the $30,000 façade grant’s 2020 commitment. An amendment, introduced by Commissioner Tony Maibaum, calls for another $30,000 from the BBB (bed, board and booze tax) to be applied to a second round of facade grant applications to be decided for 2021.
In both the case of the main motion and the amendment, commissioners David Carda and Ben Brunick were the nay votes.
According to the commission’s meeting packet, a single recipient — Anderson Realty — had been chosen for the $30,000 grant on March 10, 2020. The grant program was suspended that very same week as the city began grappling with the potential economic dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Amy Leon said the city is in need of some wins as it emerges from the pandemic.
“The façade grant program is creating some visual changes and visual excitement,” she said. “I really believe that we need to start putting the spark back into our lives, into the community and into the downtown. We were set to be focused on the downtown before all of this took place and I just don’t want to lose some of that momentum that was built by the Meridian District and others.”
Maibaum said the grant, which began in 2016, has been a benefit to the community.
“This is probably one of those few local government-sponsored programs that you could say has been extremely successful,” Maibaum said. “It’s one of those local programs that the BBB was conceived for specifically. You look at the bullet points of what those monies can be spent on, it’s a fantastic program to begin with. I wish more cities in our state and other states did this.”
The commission spent just over an hour discussing the matter, inquiring whether it would be best to open it up for applications again on the original $30,000 grant and whether there should be a second round. The board also heard from two downtown business owners that wanted to see open opportunities this year.
Carda said he wanted to stick with the original proposal.
“To me, it seems like a lot of funding we’re going to be putting on when we’ve already got $30,000 going out,” he said. “We should leave it the way it was with the initial amount.”
Brunick said he was in need of more information before committing to another round of façade grant funding.
“I’m not opposed to another $30,000 for this year; however I don’t necessarily know that I’m willing to make that decision tonight without it being vetted and having the finance department do the due diligence to make sure that that is something that is possible,” he said. “This is the first meeting of the year and I think it’s important that we hedge our bets and honor the conclusion that the commission came to last year and look forward to something this year, but also make sure that this is something we can afford to do this year.”
The start of Monday’s meeting was delayed by 20 minutes due to technical difficulties. The usual YouTube Live feed was unavailable as a result. The video from this meeting, as with all meetings, will be available in full on the city’s website for review.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Adjusted salaries for the city attorney, city manager and city finance officer;
• Approved the purchase of three vehicles for the police department;
• Accepted a bid for concrete crushing services;
• Closed out the airport apron expansion project;
• Discussed the Guppy Grant for the Huether Family Aquatics Center and Marne Creek property acquisitions. Due to the length of previous agenda item discussions and press time conflicts, these discussions will be recapped in Wednesday’s Press & Dakotan.
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