In advance of next Monday's Aberdeen City Council meeting, when allocations from the promotion fund will be decided, the council talked Monday about preliminary allocations from the promotion fund.
One of the organizations the council discussed was Absolutely! Aberdeen. That organization has received $48,000 in promotion funds each of the last four years, and requested $50,000 for 2014.
As of this moment, though, the City Council has allocated no money for Absolutely! Aberdeen. That's because five council members must allocate money for an organization before it can receive promotion money, and only four councilors recommended funding.
Monday's promotion fund discussion was preceded by city manager Lynn Lander saying that there is $27,850 in undesignated funding.
Councilman David Bunsness said at next week's meeting, he will make a motion to allocate $48,000 to Absolutely! Aberdeen. Bunsness said the work that the organization does is very important to the city.
Councilwoman Laure Swanson also spoke in favor of Absolutely! Aberdeen, of which she was a co-founder.
Other councilors, though, were not as favorable. Clint Rux said the South Dakota Municipal League is the city's lobbyist in Pierre. He likes Absolutely! Aberdeen, but he doesn’t think it's worth $48,000 in city money. Councilman Mark Remily agreed with Rux.
During the promotion process, four council members recommended spending money to solicit proposals for citywide advertising. Councilman Rob Ronanye said the city's message is neither coordinated nor consistent. He recommended spending $235,000 on citywide advertising. While he now realizes that “the winds of change don't come that quickly,” he said, he thinks a better product would result if the city sought bids for consolidated citywide advertising.
Councilman Todd Campbell, though, said he would not like to see advertising money spent with a firm outside of Aberdeen.
At this point, 18 organizations are slated to receive promotion funding.
Absolutely! Aberdeen is one of 15 organizations that are scheduled to receive no promotion funding. Two entities, like Absolutely! Aberdeen, received funding recommendations from four council members, meaning they fell one vote short. Those organizations are the Aberdeen Family YMCA and the Aberdeen Air Show.
In addition to Absolutely! Aberdeen, the council talked Monday about funding the YMCA Youth Development Center, the Boys and Girls Club and the Aberdeen Civic Theater.
Mayor Mike Levsen said he thinks the city's second penny sales tax would be a better source of funding for the Y and the Boys and Girl Club.
In an interview after Monday's meeting, Julie Johnson of Absolutely! Aberdeen said she's confident the organization will receive promotion funding from the city this year.
Johnson said that, with in-kind investments, Absolutely! Aberdeen has a budget of around $400,000. That total includes money from private sector investors and a small amount from Northern State University, she said. Johnson, the executive director, is one of two Absolutely! Aberdeen employees.
Absolutely! Aberdeen, which is an independent organization, is dedicated to accelerating the growth of Aberdeen and the region, she said.
At a work session Monday afternoon, the council heard a needs assessment report about Aberdeen's softball facilities. The report was given by Jon Brown and David Locke of Stockwell Engineers of Sioux Falls. The city hired Stockwell to do an analysis of the existing facilities. The firm is now taking community input, which included a public meeting later in the day. Stockwell will present the final version of the needs assessment in November.
Locke said there are 1,732 adults playing softball in Aberdeen this summer. That number, which may include some overlap, has stayed pretty consistent over the last five or six years, he said.
Greater growth is shown in youth baseball and softball. The total number is 1,195 right now, and it's been growing about 5 percent each year, Locke said.