Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
May 8th, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
Who needs a pipeline to move oil field benefits from the west? Fargo diversion backers have concocted a scheme to turn the state’s oil and agriculture bounty into a giant ATM machine.
The initial cost estimate of the Fargo diversion is about $2 billion. Other St. Paul Army Corps diversion projects have doubled their original estimated cost. It’s a sure bet the federal government will contribute little or nothing to this project and Minnesota will pay nothing. That leaves North Dakota as the only source of funds outside of Fargo’s sales tax.
Residents west of Cass County should take notice. There are more plans to transfer the natural wealth of the rural parts of the state to the east.
The latest topic in the interim legislative water committee is how to get a $1 billion water supply project to the east. Fargo and Cass County are tapped out for sales tax increases. Depending on your crystal ball, the total cost to the state could be between $2 and $4 billion. Pay-off schemes are sprouting like oil wells on the prairie. Many revolve around borrowing from state trust funds or federal loan pools in lieu of construction appropriations. Undoubtedly, the state would be required to co-sign any of the notes and in all likelihood, would have to absorb any uncollectible debt from the diversion.
While all this is happening, Fargo continues to provide tax incentives for homeowners to build in the natural floodplain south of town. The original flood protection plan for Fargo protected about 30 square miles. City leaders said that wasn’t good enough. They more than doubled the size of the diversion to take 70 miles out of the natural floodplain, causing costs to skyrocket. With planned growth into the floodplain came the need to create a new floodwater storage area beyond the dam and diversion and inundate 50,000 acres of rural farms, cemeteries and communities.
It’s a mystery why North Dakota’s governor has turned a blind eye and open checkbook to the unparalleled transfer of wealth from western portions of the state with its critical infrastructure needs and development issues. Our state’s budget surplus is directly attributable to the gushing energy industry in the west and bountiful agricultural production. Both industries are firmly rooted in rural North Dakota, yet the people being swamped by Fargo’s development largesse don’t get as much as an acknowledgement from Gov. Dalrymple.
The giant ATM machine seems poised to spew greenbacks in Fargo’s direction. North Dakota taxpayers deserve to have someone minding the bank that doesn’t bow to Cass County’s parochial interests. Agriculture and energy drive the state’s economic engine and Fargo wants to take that horsepower and drive their car at the expense of everyone else. What we really need is someone who will grab the wheel and take North Dakota where it needs to go.