County denies new 1 percent sales tax requests

With $1.7 million of the county’s growing 1 percent 
recreation and infrastructure sales tax revenue still uncommitted, new 
groups are coming forward with requests for the county board.  On 
April 24, two groups were sent away empty-handed after the board 
refused to make any promises for the balance of the $20 million (plus 
the cost of bonding) that can be collected in coming years.

Cook County Mountain Bike System
Tim Kennedy and Mark Spinler of the Superior Cycling Association asked 
two things of the board:  to make an application for funding from 
Minnesota’s Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program on behalf of the 
association and to consider using 1 percent funds for a 25 percent 
match on a grant of up to $500,000.  This would amount to $125,000 or 
6¼ percent of the $20 million.
Tim Kennedy told the board that areas in the region that have invested 
in single-track mountain bike trail systems are seeing significant 
increases in visitors, and those visitors tend to be prosperous.  He 
cited statistics showing the average mountain biker’s household 
income to be $94,000.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he could support committing $50,000 
of 1 percent funding for the project. “It would have been nice to 
designate it from the start,” he said.
However, such a motion was not made. The county board passed a motion 
supporting the association in an application for Legacy funds but made 
no commitment of funds.

Historical Society:
The Cook County Historical Society requested 1 percent funding for a 
second time on April 24, after being told last summer to seek other 
grant funding to supplement a $550,000 museum expansion.  This time, 
they have secured funding from other sources and requested $350,000.
The application states that the museum’s programs have been growing 
in popularity and its 2005 addition is not large enough to accommodate 
the numbers of people coming for special events.
The proposed addition would be just over 2,300 square feet on two 
levels, with a large exhibit and meeting space, a research room/
library, office and workspace, storage, and a handicap-accessible 
entrance and bathroom.  The second floor would feature the Grand 
Marais lighthouse lens which is being replaced this year by a solar-
powered LED system.
Commissioner Jim Johnson said granting 1 percent funds to a project 
not already named would be “opening a whole can of worms. …We owe 
it to the voters to stick to the projects we defined and that they 
voted on,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to deny the request.