The 2019 state legislature gets high praise – and major disappointment from Minot officials.
They’re happy with dedicated state funding for paying off the first three phases of flood protection.
But they’re unhappy that legislators killed a plan to reduce the cost of funding future portions of the project.
Jim Olson talked with Mayor Shaun Sipma about the legislative scorecard.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “Overall we had a lot of successes…”
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “There were a couple of setbacks as well…”
It was a mixed bag for key issues for the north-central part of the state. First, a look at the success – funding for major water projects in the region. Senate Bill 2020 provides 82.5 million dollars for finishing up the first three phases of the Mouse River Flood Protection Project. It also allocated 100-million dollars for critical pieces of the Northwest Area Water Supply Project.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “It was a pretty comprehensive package that Minot did very well with.”
Now, the disappointment. The failure of Senate Bill 2275 that would have used the Legacy Fund to set up a low-interest loan fund for local governments.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “It would have been an infrastructure bill that would have benefitted municipalities statewide.”
The loan fund would have meant big savings on big projects. How big?
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “In Minot alone, it would have meant a savings of over $100-million over the life of the bonding.”
Sipma says if the bill would have become law, the city would have been in the cat-bird seat for funding all of the one billion dollar flood protection project.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “It was really disappointing because it really would have set us up all the way. All the way through stages one through eight within the city of Minot to rely on our half-penny of sales tax and not have to look into any other well or any other funding mechanism.
The mayor says now, the city is faced with a harsh reality – by the end of next year, the city will hit its bonding limit and will be at a crossroads.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “Our projection is that in late 2020 is about when we hit our threshold of borrowing capacity. At that point, we have some serious discussions to have on how we’re going to keep moving forward at the pace we’re at.”
So expect to hear much more about funding for the effort to protect against future flooding along the Mouse River. Jim Olson, KX News.
The city is holding a public town hall meeting next week – on May 8th – to offer information and answer questions about flood protection and anything else on your mind.