New legislation funds Minot’s needs

Minot is set to benefit from millions of dollars in energy impact money appropriated by the 2013 Legislature for the next biennium.

Mayor Curt Zimbelman told the Minot City Council Monday that the city could get about $13 million in impact assistance for infrastructure and other needs. In addition, the Legislature approved impact funding of $25 million toward a new airport terminal, estimated to cost $40 million. The terminal is part of $75 million in planned airport improvements.

“I think we came out fairly well, much better than we did two years ago,” Zimbelman said, adding that oil-impacted communities could use even more help. “There’s so much need because of what is going on that even though the Legislature has tried to help us, it is really not enough.”

Even so, he said, “We are thankful for what we did get.”

City manager David Waind said the airport appropriation will enable the city to proceed with bid opening tentatively set for June 25. If the project remains on schedule, the new terminal could be completed by the fall of 2015.

The other major appropriation for Minot was about $60 million for engineering and property acquisitions related to a flood control project.

“It will give us a good start on that project,” Waind said. “I think from the city’s perspective, we are thankful for the assistance that we got and will continue to work to do the best we can with the funds that they provided.”

In other business, the council entered an agreement related to Meadowlark Drive with Roers, which is developing commerical property along 16th Street near Dakota Square Mall. Meadowlark Drive, a nearby cul de sac neighborhood, has an entrance onto 16th Street, but poor visibility and heavy, fast traffic on 16th Street have made access difficult.

Council member Blake Krabseth said the problems for Meadowlark Drive residents stem from growth around the existing development.

“A lot of what has happened to this neighborhood has been decisions we have made over the past 15 years that have changed their neighborhood,” he said.

Under the agreement, Roers will construct a second access from Meadowlark Drive onto 31st Avenue as the avenue is extended to the west. Roers also will provide safety improvements for the existing access onto 16th Street.

Roers will contribute $110,000 to pay for the project. The council capped the city’s share at $350,000. The project includes acquiring and relocating a house to create the new access out of the neighborhood.

The city’s share would come from the portion of the sales tax dedicated to capital improvements.

Prior to the council voting to put any cost overruns solely on Roers, finance director Cindy Hemphill warned about potentially endangering other capital improvement projects.

“Our sales taxes are down 36 percent over last year. Overall, we are down 23 percent from what we budgeted,” she said. “It could, if there are cost overruns, deplete the sales tax capital highway reserve funds this year. That may be the only remaining project that could possibly be done.”

Krabseth, who worked with Roers and the neighborhood to craft the agreement, said cost overruns are unlikely, but a provision for handling them still needs to be in the agreement. He said an advantage of the development agreement for the city is that the work will be done at cost.

“It’s a very balanced solution that will work out and is affordable,” he said.

In other action Monday, the council:

acknowledged the American Legion Auxiliary for the donation of 2,450 flags to Rosehill Cemetery.

received preliminary information from LendSmart Mortgage on a private sector initiative for affordable housing. The start-up group’s objective is to involve lenders, builders and employers in assisting buyers with closing costs, down payments and other expenses to make home purchases more affordable.