City faces tough choice on flood control

According to city officials, the City of Minot faces a serious quandary ahead of them in terms of budgeting and planning.

Exactly, how much money does the city allocate to flood control at the expense of other city needs is the dilemma.

That’s what the Minot City Council was struggling with last week.

City Manager Tom Barry told council members that projected city revenue is enough to meet expected expenses in 2020 but that’s not the case going forward as flood control costs rise. This, after the Legislature failed to approve a plan this year that would have allowed for low-interest loans from the state for major infrastructure projects.

The city has more than $412 million in capital improvements on its plate over the next five years: including prominently $187.7 million for flood control and $118.3 million for the Northwest Area Water Supply Project. Were it not for those necessities, the City of Minot is prepared for the other line items.

Possible means to address the challenge don’t ring with optimism. They include a regular re-allocation of sales tax revenue or asking other communities in the area affected by flood protections and NAWS to chip in funding. Neither seems likely to be a holistic solution, with the latter idea unlikely to generate enough revenue to make much of a difference.

So is there a singular solution? Will it take a combination of machinations? Is this an issue that can’t simply be addressed locally? Will all of the phases of flood protection become reality?

Those are tough questions to address.

The council plans to continue the budget conversation in coming months, including at a retreat planned this summer.

The public can offer input tonight. City officials will be discussing flood protection and actions of the 2019 Legislature as well as taking the public’s questions at a townhall meeting at 6 p.m. in Perkett Elementary School.

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