When the 66th Legislative Assembly begins in January in Bismarck, lawmakers are likely to see city officials from Minot frequently.
Minot’s city council and department heads have identified key issues they intend to watch closely – and lobby for in the session.
Jim Olson talked with the mayor about the city’s legislative priorities.
From money for flood protection, to funding for the Northwest Area Water Supply project, to local control over taxation issues, Minot’s mayor sees a busy few months at the legislature for local officials.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “There’s certainly a lot of issues that are going to be brought forward in Bismarck in January.”
Those issues were fleshed out at a recent meeting of city council members and department heads. Sipma says at the top of the list is long-term funding for the billion-dollar flood protection project. He says the city wants to work with legislators on a plan to make funds from the state’s $5.8 billion Legacy Fund available as loans.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “If we can get access to low interest loans or low interest bonds through some mechanism of the Legacy Fund, I know there’s some different ideas out there, we’re talking about upwards of about $100 million in savings just in interest alone.”
Local funding for the project comes almost entirely from funds raised through a half-penny of the city sales tax in Minot. The mayor says without some new funding such as from the Legacy Fund, the future of the project is in doubt.
(Shaun Sipma, Minot Mayor) “That is absolutely critical to our building blocks for flood control. Because if we’re only relying on that half-penny, we don’t have enough bonding capacity off that half-penny to get us past essentially three years from now.”
It’s a key reason Sipma and other Minot officials are likely to be spending lots of time in the halls of the state capitol throughout the upcoming legislative session.
Jim Olson, KX News.
The legislature convenes its new session on January 3rd with the governor’s State of the State address.