Impact Report to the Legislature - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Impact Report to the Legislature

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Williston officials first noticed the growth of the city in 2004.

In preparation, major infrastructure capacity was increased by 40 percent -- enough to support a population 16,000.

In 2000, U.S. Census Bureau numbers had Williston at 12,000 -- and by the census in 2010, the city was at 15,000 and had already nearly out grown the infrastructure foresight.

The census bureau now estimates Williston's population at about 21,000.

According to the Williston Economic Impact Report, the number is closer to 30,000.

Jennifer Kleen tells us, no matter how the population numbers are presented, Williston will be asking the state for infrastructure funds.

$600 million dollars.

That's the price tag on Williston infrastructure needs over the next six years as identified in the Economic Development Impact Statement.

(Tom Rolfstad, Williston Economic Development Director) "When you're the fastest growing micropolitan city in the country, three years in a row, you're going to have numbers."

Those numbers, or economic indicators, have been compiled to create a case for the state legislature as Williston city officials seek funding to off set the impacts.

Rolfstad says the problem is that the city has to plan now for what they'll ask for in January, for money they'll rreceivenext July, and it has to get them through the following two years.

(Tom Rolfstad, Williston Economic Development Director) "We actually have to have a crystal ball that can see three years in advance. Which is almost impossible to do."

(Ward Koeser, City of Williston Former Mayor) "We had needs of about $225 million in that time period and they gave us $60. On one hand you could say that $60 million is a big deal, on the other hand you could say it's not as big a deal as $225 million."

About 11 percent of oil taxes are returned directly to communities.

In the shape of road repairs -- that figure is arguably more.

(Howard Klug, Williston Mayor-Elect) "It's getting better. Everyone says Williston is only getting 11 percent but we have figures that show that it's closer to 25-26%. The funding formulas are changing."

Rolfstad says leaders from the east side of the state are positive in following Williston's progress; many benefiting from the prosperity.

He says a clear example is the Williston Area Recreation Center: the walls were prefabricated in Grand Forks.

(Tom Rolfstad, Williston Economic Development Director) "Grand Forks says they have 150 businesses that are benefiting from the boom. Fargo would be the same if not more."

The Economic Impact Statement includes detailed budgets of what infrastructure is needed and when.

Rolfstad says the data should be able to do the talking when it's time to meet at the capitol.

(Tom Rolfstad, Williston Economic Development Director) "That the state has reserves and we don't, is illustrative of the issue."

Of the $600 million in infrastructure projects, Rolfstad says it's not something that can be funded by the city or the state alone.

(Tom Rolfstad, Williston Economic Development Director) "The sooner we can do it, the sooner this can be the kind of city that people want to live in."

In Williston, Jennifer Kleen, KX News.

Tom Rolfstad says a new Impact Statement will be produced before January to provide legislators with fresh numbers.

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