The Buffalo Red River Water Shed District (BRRWD) had a bumpy beginning to 2015. The Fargo Diversion Authority was engaged in a full court press to compel the BRRWD to approve the Fargo Diversion Authority 2015 financial budget, which was ironically over six months overdue. (all previous budgets coincided with the USACE fiscal year commencing Oct 1)
The budget was contentious, to say the least. The Fargo Diversion Authority (pro-Fargo development machine) trotted out a full line of representatives to implore the BRRWD to approve to overdue 2015 budget. The Fargo Diversion Authority outreach team even trotted out Oxbow Mayor Nyhof, who whined about receiving a call (mid afternoon) and missing a flight to attend the meeting to coerce to BRRWD to approve the budget.
BRRWD attorney Tami Norgard appeared to rally more for the interests of the Fargo Diversion Authority than any BRRWD entity she was retained to represent. The budget discussions had become so convoluted that Fargo Diversion Authority ultimately formed a Dakota Metro Flood Board, which excluded Minnesota. Nothing more neighborly than metaphorically flipping a middle finger to MN Governor Mark Dayton and agencies charged with protecting Minnesota resources.
So why would BRRWD attorney Tami Norgard be advising the board to approve a budget that, according the BRRWD meeting minutes:
3/23/2015 BRRWD minutes
Kent Lokkesmoe, Administrator, Management Resources Bureau, DNR, on 03/03/15, Lokkesmoe told him that the BRRWD must not vote on the DA Budget until the EIS has been completed. According to Fjestad, Lokkesmoe added that the BRRWD could approve funding for the DNR’s EIS and Fargo in-town projects, but to approve anything more in the 2015 Budget could affect the DNR-BRRWD working relationship.
Finally, on March 23, 2015: a motion by (John E.) Hanson to approve only the portion of the 2015 DA Budget that provides funding for the DNR’s EIS ($1.5 million). Seconded by (Mark T.) Anderson. Approved unanimously.
So there you have it, a restricted 2015 Fargo Diversion Authority budget was approved six months overdue and further action by the BRRWD on the matter should not take place until the Minnesota DNR EIS process has been completed.
If life were only that simple!
Here we go again, round 2, tonight (January 11, 2016 7:00pm Barnesville, MN) the Fargo Diversion Authority is presenting an overdue 2016 budget to the BRRWD for approval. Despite the BRRWD having clearly indicated that it would defy or undermine the Minnesota DNR process, the board is being coerced into approving at FY2016 budget.
NOTHING IS EVER THAT SIMPLE
The Fargo Diversion Authority narrative is to try and convince the BRRWD that:
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Summary
The proposed FY16 budget assumes the following will occur in Q1/Q2 2016:
• MN DNR will issue its Final EIS,
The fundamental problem is none of the above have occurred and there is no indication that any of these will occur anytime in the near future, or at all in 2016.
“All this” with a couple hundred million unspent dollars in the bank of North Dakota that Fargo could use if the BRRWD declined approval of the FY2016 budget. Is it time to call the bluff in this game of liars poker?
Curiously, the Fargo Diversion Authority has included $1.4 million dollars for retention projects:
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Summary
The budget includes cost share funding for Phase I retention project upstream of Halstad. Projects proposed and recommended for Phase I funding approval include six projects in Minnesota; including three Buffalo Red River Watershed District projects and three Bois de Sioux Watershed District projects.
Is this $1.4 million dollar “carrot” enough to entice the BRRWD into approving the FY2016 budget?
Should the BRRWD be taking any action that could undermine the state of Minnesota?
Should BRRWD members seek counsel of the Minnesota DNR?
Should BRRWD members face legal action if they vote to approve the FY2016 budget?