Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
January 3rd, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Author: Trana Rogne, board of directors,
MnDak Upstream Coalition
Kindred School district patrons are now paying for the Fargo Diversion, even though a shovel of dirt has not been turned. You’ve got to be kidding, right? Here’s how the saga began.
Fargo said they needed a big ditch to move water around town because spring floods on the Red River threaten their city. In the process they want to carve out a section of undeveloped flood plain to preserve future growth. In order to do that, they need to build a dam just south of town and flood 50,000 acres. Now, nobody from Ipswitch to Indianapolis wants to buy or build a home on those 50,000 acres.
Current residents told Cass County that since they can’t sell their houses, the values are less, and they shouldn’t have to pay as much tax on property values that aren’t there. The county said no. The residents appealed to the state. North Dakota’s Tax Equalization Board agreed with the residents, citing market valuation declines as a result of Fargo’s plans. So here’s the rub. The 20% valuation reduction for the residents of Oxbow, means less money for the school district.
So, budget in hand, the Kindred School Board asked the Diversion Authority to pay for the revenue lost to the district. The answer was “no,” again. Cass County Auditor Michael Montplaisir said the district is not technically short any money, because they can simply raise the mill levy for entire district. This is like telling a shooting victim that he really isn’t losing any blood because his family could donate for a transfusion.
Diversion Authority Chair and Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vanyo said, “To give the Kindred School District (the) monies may establish a precedent for the future reduction through the whole process of building the diversion”. In other words, they don’t want to pay the real cost of the diversion, and they won’t if they can help it. State Tax Commissioner Cory Fong says “he hopes Cass County would work to resolve these issues, as they would create other problems.”
The North Dakota Legislature convenes next week. Fargo needs money for their diversion project. Perhaps the Legislature should ask, “Who is supposed to pay the bill,” before any more money is handed out.