Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
May 12th, 2016
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
“No one could foresee the extent to which commodity prices would fall after the Legislature adopted the current budget,” Dalrymple said; speaking to the Fargo Forum about his call for even deeper state budget cuts; ten percent across the board.
The forecast is dire. North Dakota’s Director of Mineral Resources recently stated that he expects the future to bring a “severe” drop in oil production. Positions are being left unfilled and payroll cuts are contemplated at major state institutions. So where does this leave the FM Diversion?
“Full Speed Ahead!” is the message Diversion Authority leaders are projecting by last month’s pending. In April, when the rest of the state was weighing 10% budget cuts, Fargo’s Diversion Authority spent $15,308,000.00 tax dollars, over ½ a million dollars a day. The Oxbow debacle continues, now double the amount promised just three years ago. The total is now up to 126 million and includes spending for concrete golf cart paths. When they have state tax dollars intended for Fargo’s internal flood protection to spend, black top just isn’t good enough for these Diversion Authority insiders and their private golf course 20 miles south of Fargo! This figure should outrage taxpayers as every dollar spent in Oxbow will have been for nothing if the dam is not approved.
The sole reason for constructing the Oxbow ring dike, golf course and awarding top end buyouts was to protect that town from artificial flooding that will only occur if the dam is constructed. Diversion Officials pressed ahead and spent this money not knowing whether the dam would ever receive the necessary legal permits to be constructed. They arrogantly gambled with tax payer money, and continue to do so even though it now seems fairly certain ND will not permit the dam. The state engineer has said he will not even accept an application for a construction permit without proof that the Diversion Authority has acquired property rights for over 30,000 acres in Cass and Richland counties. A Minnesota dam construction permit is also required. Governor Dayton is on record stating Minnesota’s objections to the proposed flooding of Clay and Wilkin Counties. Despite these road blocks Diversion leaders continue to spend in Oxbow and are trying to buy up rural lands in the path of the dam and diversion channel.
The hundreds of millions promised by the state of ND will only be paid if there is first federal funding. According to law, Fargo does not yet have federal funding and what was budgeted will be rescinded unless Fargo can prove it has resolved all state permitting problems prior to August 31, 2016. Governor Dalrymple knows ND will never have to pay out the 100s of millions of promised state funds if the dam is never given a construction permit. Maybe he too is sickened by how Diversion insiders continue to spend millions of tax dollars on club houses, 400 % buyouts and concrete golf cart paths for an exclusive private country club.
Isn’t it time to demand a moratorium on all spending that isn’t related to Fargo’s internal flood protection? Why are Diversion Authority insiders borrowing and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on golf courses and land acquisitions for a project that might never be allowed? Wouldn’t it be prudent to stop spending state tax money on Oxbow and rural land acquisitions at least until we know whether the dam will receive the necessary state permits?