Mandan News

Letter to the editor: City of Mandan entering real estate business

In recent actions, the City of Mandan and the Mandan Park District have approved the use of our public hospitality tax to buy 1.7 million in land and then in turn lease it to a potential new YMCA, a non-government entity, for $1. You developers are up against some stiff competition. You are up against competition who:

• Uses public money to fund the project

• Using public money eliminates their need for financing expenses

• Since it’s owned by the government, the city has no property tax expense (and property tax payers in Mandan get no revenue to help reduce their taxes)

• The park district and city are in turn looking to lease the land for $1. How could you commercial guys possibly invest $1,500,000 and only ask $1 for a lease? Did anyone ask whether government can actually do this without their violating our constitution which says that government cannot give a “gift” to a non-government entity? How is this not a gift? This $1 on a $1.5 million dollar property provides Mandan taxpayers with a rate of return on their investment of .000006 percent. And you though money market and CD rates were low. How about if all of you pushing for this project invest your personal money in this knowing you are getting .000006 percent? Why not? So if you wouldn’t personally do this, why would you use my taxpayer money to do it? In Mandan, the answer is “Because we’ve gotten by with it for years and taxpayers don’t seem to care.”

So is anyone going to ask for an Attorney General’s opinion on this as to whether this $1 lease violates our Constitutional provision as being a “gift?”

Is the Attorney General’s office going to do their job in policing local government and step in here on its own?

I think these are questions developers, real estate investors and more so, all of Mandan taxpayers should be asking.

-Wayne Papke, Mandan